Loath to pass up an opportunity to offer "one more thing" to a crowd of Mac enthusiasts, Apple CEO Steve Jobs used his Wednesday morning keynote presentation here to take the wraps off a new pair of iBook consumer portables.
As expected, Jobs also rolled out the promised public beta version of Mac OS X. The first end-user version of the next-generation OS is available at the show for $29.99 (£21.24) on a single CD-ROM that contains English, French and German versions. Jobs said the final version is still on track for early 2001.
Meanwhile, Jobs also announced the immediate availability of ATI's Radeon graphics processor for all G4-based Mac models.
The new iBook and iBook Special Edition, which reportedly carried the code name P 1.5, each pack FireWire connectivity and Version 2.0 of the company's iMovie consumer video-editing package.
The standard iBook will be available in Indigo and Key Lime shades and include a 366MHz PowerPC G3 processor, 64MB of RAM, 10GB of storage, a Rage Mobility 128 graphics card and a CD-ROM drive. The revised iBook Special Edition -- available in Graphite -- will pack a 466MHz G3 and a DVD-ROM drive. Both will be available exclusively through Apple's online store starting at $1,499.
Jobs used a demo of Quake to show how ATI's Radeon chip outperforms the ATI Rage chips previously available on Mac systems. According to sources, Apple had originally planned to unveil the Radeon chip at July's Macworld Expo/New York, then pulled the announcement when ATI prematurely released information about Apple's forthcoming Macs. The Radeon card will be available as build-to-order option for Power Mac G4 systems, including the new Power Mac G4 Cube.
Despite initial threats by some Mac users to disrupt the presentation to protest Apple policies in Europe the event passed without incident, although Jobs' announcement that the iBooks would be available only from the Apple Store drew a few catcalls from the crowd. "Don't you like buying from the Apple Store?" Jobs asked them. "It's maybe the best online store in the world."
Jobs also quipped about a Tuesday evening sprinkler mishap that flooded the show floor at the Porte de Versailles and caused some damage to the Apple booth: "The first one was, 'Well, something had to leak.' The second was, 'How fitting, the day I'm launching Aqua' " -- the name of Mac OS X's new GUI.
Matthew Rothenberg thinks your view of the Apple Expo glass as half-empty or half-full will depend on your geographical location, your belief in the continued importance of trade-show attendance as a marketing tool and your faith in the Steve Jobs-equals-Apple equation. Go to AnchorDesk UK for the news comment.