Apple vice president of worldwide product marketing

While many of the announcements during Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote Tuesday at Macworld Expo may have been expected, the Macs that became the first to run on Intel-built processors weren’t such obvious choices. We wanted to do a product that was impactful, and the iMac is kind of our flagship product.David Moody>Text

While many thought the iBook would be the first Mac to have an Intel chip, the distinction instead went to the iMac and an entirely new laptop dubbed the MacBook Pro. Both machines run on Intel Duo Core processors.

The decision on which models would feature Intel processors first may have caught some observers off-guard, but it was a choice that was carefully thought out by Apple executives. “We wanted to do a product that was impactful, and the iMac is kind of our flagship product,” David Moody, Apple vice president of worldwide product marketing, said. “With the PowerBook, we had gone a long time trying to get over the performance hurdle and the Intel Core Duo allowed us to do that.”

JupiterResearch Senior Analyst Michael Gartenberg wasn’t that surprised to see two Macs released and feels that Apple made the right choice in choosing the systems to upgrade.

“I wasn’t overly blown away,” Gartenberg said. “These guys have really been working hard and the hit both market segments they needed to with the iMac and MacBook releases.”

When the Intel transition was first announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2005, Jobs said to expect the first Intel-based computer in a year. Tuesday’s hardware announcements puts Apple and Intel six months ahead of schedule in the planned switch-over.

“The process of the transition has gone very well for both companies,” Moody said. “We’ve had intensive engineering meetings between the two companies, so we are thrilled to get these products out.”

Gartenberg said he was impressed by how much the Intel-powered machines felt like a Mac. “If nobody told you the difference, you wouldn’t know,” he added.

While the Intel announcements were the talk of much of the Expo attendees, Apple also made some significant software releases. An upgraded iLife package was released, highlighted by the addition of a new application called iWeb.

iWeb is a Web-publishing application designed to easily create professional-looking Web pages populated with online photo albums, weblogs and podcasts. iWeb users can design and publish these Web pages without having to know HTML. An integrated iLife media browser provides direct access to content managed by other iLife applications.

“iWeb takes it up a notch again to embrace podcasting, blogging and photo albums with a great online slideshow viewer,” said Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of applications marketing. “The application registers as a natural next thing you want to do with iLife, but it also highlights the integration.”

The integration of the suite is something that resonated with Jupiter’s Gartenberg, too.

“The iLife announcement was huge,” he said. “They are capitalizing on all of the integration and technologies. They have taken the Web buzzwords and made an end-to-end solution that anyone can use.”

Schoeben said that with the release of iLife and the Intel-based Macs, Apple is giving its users endless possibilities of what they can do with their content.

“The complete Apple solution is not just at the edge of the Mac community, it can reach everyone,” Schoeben said.