Apple Computer unveiled its much-anticipated consumer portable Wednesday, an eye-catching, colourful, curved computer that interim CEO Steve Jobs dubbed "an iMac to go."
The iBook will sell for $1,599 and be available in September, Jobs said during Wednesday morning's keynote address at Macworld Expo/New York '99. The price will make it affordable in Apple's sweet-spot education market, Jobs said.
The company also used the forum to introduce Airport, a wireless LAN, with a throughput rate of 11 Mbps; QuickTime TV, a new Internet-based broadcast network; tout Mac OS 9.0, now slated to ship in October for $99.
Like the iMac, the iBook will be colorful: The systems will ship in tangerine and blueberry color schemes. Jobs said the iBook will include a 12.1-inch TFT display with a resolution of 800 by 600 pixels; an ATI RAGE chip; a 300-MHz G3 processor; a CD-ROM drive; 32 Mbytes of memory, expandable to 160 Mbytes; built-in modem, USB and 10/100 Ethernet; and a full-size keyboard. Jobs also touted the device's battery life of six hours and its rugged design, which includes a polycarbonite chassis and rubber styling.
The iBook includes a handle but lacks a latch, opening quietly, like a cell phone. Expanding on a Macworld Expo tradition, Jobs showed off TV spots featuring the new consumer portable and the theme "iMac unplugged."
The presentation started with another surprise: Clad in the Apple exec's trademark black turtleneck and jeans, actor Noah Wylie took the stage to portray Steve Jobs, the role he played in the TNT docudrama "Pirates of Silicon Valley."
Jobs proved a demanding director, coming on stage to walk Wylie through how the real Jobs would do things. Jobs said Quicktime TV leverages the streaming capabilities of QuickTime 4 to broadcast video globally, including content from such partners as Disney, ABC News, Bloomberg, the BBC, Rolling Stone and VH1.
Reprising his performance at May's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Apple exec Phil Schiller showed off the e-commerce potential of Sherlock II, a new version of the Internet search feature due to debut in Mac OS 9.0. Schiller showed off the upgrade's capability to create sets of searches and demonstrated how users can employ the technology compare the price and availability of wares across the Internet. "Shopping is never going to be any more fun that when we get Sherlock II out there," Schiller said.
The keynote also included a demo of a Mac version of Bungie Software's Halo, a third-person perspective, multiplayer game that taps OpenGL to let two teams of up to 16 players compete via local networks or BungieNet.com; a demonstration of a Mac version of IBM ViaVoice speech-recognition technology.
Click here for a picture of the iBook