A Year Ago: Apple US goes direct, springs wonder chip

First published: Tue, 11 Nov 1997 11:45:06 GMT
Written by Lisa M. Bowman, Contributor

Apple Computer Inc. interim CEO Steve Jobs introduced a feistier, faster company Monday, taking direct jabs at competitors and unveiling a new chip to compete against Intel's fastest processors.

He showcased the new G3 chip and three new computers fuelled by it, including the world's fastest laptop. He also said Apple would begin selling custom-made computers directly to customers through the new Apple Store on the company's apple.com Web site. "We are fundamentally changing the way we're doing business," Jobs said.

Jobs also took aim at Michael Dell, chairman of Dell Computer Corp. Earlier this year, Dell said Apple should close the company and return shareholders' money.

But Jobs wouldn't have any of it: "With our new products and our new store, we're coming to get you, buddy," Jobs said, causing the crowd to erupt in applause and cheers. One attendee shouted, "Kick some Wintel butt!" after the comment.

Jobs said Apple is introducing a new desktop, mini-tower, and laptop fuelled by the G3. The Power Macintosh G3 desktop will retail for between $2,000 and $2,400, depending on features; the Power Macintosh G3 mini-tower will be priced at $3,000; and the laptop will retail for about $5,700. "These products basically scream with power," Jobs said.

He said the G3 chip is smaller and uses less energy than an Intel 300MHz Pentium II chip. The chip is the third-generation processor to come out of a joint venture between Apple and IBM Corp.

During his speech, Jobs pitted the new Apple computers against a desktop and laptop powered by Intel's fastest chips. Each time, Apple executed the Adobe graphics programs faster.

The Apple Store goes online today in the United States; it will be available in Japan and Europe by next spring, with prices in local currency. It is built on technology developed by Next Software, Jobs' venture that was bought by Apple. Next also developed a similar program used by Dell. Through the Apple Store, Customers will be able to buy the G3 products built-to-order.

Some analysts were concerned about a conflict between Apple and its resellers and distributors if it sold computers directly. But Apple executives said they also were bolstering their agreements with stores and distributors.

Last week, Apple streamlined its distributor list to two from five, to ensure stronger ties to the remaining distributors and reduce its inventory. The company also announced that retail giant CompUSA would be opening Apple mini-stores within its retail spaces. Such stores will feature Apple products and Mac-savvy sales people. Jobs gave a virtual tour of the test store in Pleasanton, Calif., during his speech.

Jobs did not mention any deals with network-computer advocate Oracle Corp., though many speculated such a deal would be unveiled today. Jobs also avoided any discussion of the empty CEO post. In recent weeks, Jobs has been coy about whether he is considering it. Apple executives said they were interviewing candidates and the search was ongoing.

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