MACWORLD: Jobs shows off Apple browser

Apple Computer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs introduced the company’s own Web browser, called “Safari,” Tuesday during his keynote address at the MacWorld trade show in San Francisco, and also showed off a dizzying number of new PowerBook computers and software applications, including one meant to compete with Microsoft Corp.’s popular PowerPoint.

“We have done our own browser and it’s awesome,” Jobs said. “It’s the fastest browser on Mac, period.”

Safari is available now in beta as a free download at the Apple Web site. It is built on open-source code and includes integrated Google search functions in the toolbar.

Tested on an 800MHz G4 Mac, Safari out-performed Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser, Netscape and the Chimera Web browser in a variety of speed tests, Jobs said.

Jobs also rolled out iDVD 3, an update to Apple’s DVD-burning software, as well as iMovie 3 for home-moving making and iPhoto 2, for digital photographs. He also demonstrated iTunes 3, which has been previously available. All four software products will be available Jan. 25 in an integrated package called iLife, which will cost US$49, and be bundled with new Macintosh computers. Users will be able to download for free all of the new “iApp” upgrades, except iDVD.

The other new software Jobs demonstrated is Keynote, which sells for US$99 and is available now. The presentation application will offer PowerPoint competition. “Keynote was built for me,” Jobs said, adding that he has been using beta versions of it during keynote speeches over the past year.

The software allows users to set presentation themes, create data tables, charts and graphs from within the application and to use a host of transitions and image effects when designing presentations. Keynote can also import and export files into PowerPoint and PDF (Portable Document Format), creating a level of Windows compatibility.

Two new PowerBooks shown at the keynote are a 17-inch titanium G4 that will sell for US$3,299 and a 12-inch PowerBook for US$1,799 or US$1,999 with a SuperDrive.

The two notebooks constitute the largest and smallest notebooks available from Apple, and are part of an effort by Apple to increase the share of notebook computers the company sells. About 32 per cent of all the computers Apple sold in 2002 were notebooks. Jobs said that number will grow, reaching about 35 per cent this year.

The 17-inch Titanium G4 features a landscape 1440×900 display, and borrows display technology from Apple’s flat-panel iMac.

“We’ve taken the same display that has been greeted with applause on the iMac,” Jobs said. “It’s stunning. And when you close it, it is only 1-inch thick. It is the most incredible product we have ever made.”

The 17-inch Titanium PowerBook features built-in Bluetooth wireless technology, and also is the first to introduce Apple’s new FireWire 800 technology, which is said to run twice as fast as the original technology. “It screams,” Jobs said.

True to Apple’s innovation in design, the notebook also features an industry first, a keyboard with fibre-optic back lighting, which enables the keys to light up automatically when the computer detects that it is in a dark environment.

“This is clearly going to be the year of the notebook,” Jobs said.