Apple shows off its goods

Looking to pull the company out of its recent slump, Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs kicked off the MacWorld conference and expo held in San Francisco by unveiling an array of new products. With thousands of Apple faithful looking on, Apple’s top executive revealed features in the Mac OS X operating system, faster G4 desktops and a new line of ultra-thin PowerBook laptops.

In the Mac OS X demonstration, Jobs showed a variety of new menu options, very fluid drag and drop features and media applications. The OS will be in stores on March 24 priced at US$129.

As he introduced the new line of faster desktops, Jobs said, “We have been coasting along at 500MHz for 18 months, and that is too long.”

Apple will release four models of its faster desktops, stretching the processing power up to 733MHz. Along with the 733MHz machines, Apple will bundle its new SuperDrive product, which can read and write CDs and DVDs. The DVDs written and created by users can then be played on any commercially available DVD player. The lowest-powered machine in this line will run at 433MHz and will be priced at $1,699, while the top model will be priced at $3,499.

“These new G4s have the power to burn CDs, DVDs and Pentiums,” Jobs said.

Jobs also highlighted a new line of PowerBooks with 500MHz G4 processors. These laptops are made out of titanium, are one inch thick and come with a 15.2-inch LCD screen. Shipping by the end of January, the 400MHz model will cost $2,599 with the 500MHz model running at $3,499.

“We have the power and the sex,” Jobs said of the new laptops.

Like other PC makers, Apple suffered from slowing late-year sales. Due to slower than expected sales in October and November, Apple last month said it expected both its first-quarter 2001 earnings and revenue, for the period ending Dec. 30, will be well below its previous expectations. The company said it would miss revenue targets for the first time in three years and issued a number of rebates on its G4 Cubes. Apple now hopes the faster speeds of the G4s will boost sales and attract large, corporate customers along with its multimedia mainstays. Apple officials said lower-than-expected sales of its PowerMac G4 Cubes accounted for over $90 million in missed revenue for the quarter.

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