Latest Apple Toys Target Budget Customers

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple Computer moved to shed its
high-priced image with a new a Macintosh that sells for less than $499.

The computer, dubbed Mac mini, is just one of several less
expensive offerings that CEO Steve Jobs rolled out Tuesday at the
annual Macworld conference here.

“The biggest question we get is, ‘Why doesn’t Apple offer a
stripped down Mac that is more compatible?'” Jobs said about the Mac
mini. “Well we have one now that is the most affordable Mac ever.

The stark white computer comes in two different flavors: a 1.25 GHz and 1.42
GHz PowerPC G4 processor retailing for $499 and $599, respectively. Both
units include ATI Radeon 9200 graphics support, 32MB of dedicated DDR memory
and up to a 80GB combo hard drive. Both models come with internal
support for AirPort Extreme wireless networking and Bluetooth, as well
as DVI or VGA out (adapter included) and composite/S-video out with an
optional adapter.

Mini Mac

“This can hook up to most any display on the market,” Jobs said.

The Mac mini will be available starting on Jan. 22 along with an
upgrade to iLife, Apple’s photo, music and movie productivity suite.

However, the peripheral hardware is missing from the Mac mini. “This
is strictly BYODKM, which means bring your own display, keyboard and
mouse,” Jobs quipped.

Jobs said Apple expects the Mac mini to be a big seller as a second
or third family computer, as well as the final tipping point for any
Windows-based user who was reluctant to plunk down $799 for Apple’s
next most expensive computer, the CRT-based eMac.

In addition to budget computers, Jobs unveiled the iPod shuffle, a low-price, Flash
memory-based music player. The iPod shuffle is Apple’s key into
the entry-level music player market, which Jobs claimed was only 29
percent of the total digital music player market and which Apple did not
have a stake in.

iPod Shuffle

The USB 2.0-based player is about the size of a pack of gum and
comes with a click wheel but no display. The iPod shuffle can hold both
data and music files. And whereas most Flash-based music players are
selling with 256MB for just over $100, Jobs said Apple’s new iPod
shuffle will sell at $99 with 512MB of storage (about 120 songs) and a
$149 version with 1GB of storage.

Also on Apple’s new budget list is an upgrade to the company’s
AppleWorks productivity suite. Re-named iWork, the product includes a
new word processor that is both Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF
compatible.

The suite also comes with an upgrade to Apple’s Keynote
presentation product. Version 2.0 is also PowerPoint compatible and
ties in all the bells and whistles Apple has in its 2005 upgrade to
iLife. Both iWork and iLife 2005 will be available on Jan. 22 for
$79.

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