iBook, G4 make a splash in Japan

Apple gives Japan a peek at its upcoming "i-candy style" products.

Apple was quick to distinguish itself among the 700 companies exhibiting at this week's instalment of World PC Expo, Asia's biggest personal computing show.

The company used the event, which runs through Saturday in the Makuhari Messe here, to offer Japanese audiences their first look at the forthcoming iBook and Power Mac G4 line and provide shipping dates and prices for the local market.

Apple's booth is overflowing with attendees trying to get their hands on the new consumer portable and pro desktop systems. About 15 iBooks, each bearing a Japanese character imprinted on the keyboard, have garnered plenty of attention from visitors whose interest was piqued by a recent spate of television commercials featuring the colourful notebook.

According to Apple, the 400MHz, 450MHz and 500MHz Power Mac G4 models will ship in Japan in mid-September, October and November, respectively, for a basic price of 198,000 yen (about £1106), 318,000 yen (£1777) and 428,000 yen (£2392), respectively. Ultimate configurations that include the new Apple Cinema display will cost 816,000 yen (£4560) and 926,000 yen (£5175), respectively, for 450MHz and 500MHz versions.

The iBook will reach the Japanese market in early December priced at 198,000 yen (£1106). The AirPort base station and card for wireless networking will cost 38,000 yen (£213) and 12,800 yen (£71), respectively.

In third-party news, the success of the iMac has apparently inspired yet another imitator: EUPA Tech of Taiwan, which is making much of its "i-candy style cases".

Two-megapixel digital cameras also are vying for attention at the show. Sony's new single-lens-reflex camera features a 5x Vario-Zonar (Leica) lens that is bigger than the imaging area. Olympus, Casio and Fuji have also introduced new models, each of which includes some combination of Universal Serial Bus and FireWire interfaces.

On other technology fronts, RAM-bus DRAM has made its debut in a pre-production display, Samsung is marketing its latest MP3 player, and about 20 Linux-related exhibits have joined the platform mix on the show floor.

World PC Expo 99 is sponsored by Nikkei BP, a leading Japanese publisher of computer magazines.

Yuji Tai of Japan Apple Watch contributed to this report.