Macworld Expo: Blue no more - iMac's a rainbow

Steve Jobs used his keynote here at Macworld Expo '99 Tuesday morning to trumpet Apple Computer Inc.'s successes with the iMac and to highlight the company's continued push back into the consumer market.
Written by Matthew Broersma, Contributor

Jobs, Apple's CEO, said the company would continue its transformation of the personal computer into a friendly consumer product with a new line of iMacs -- this time in multiple colours. Reversing Henry Ford's famous dictum that "you can buy it in whatever colour you want as long as it's black," Jobs introduced iMacs in such colours as Tangerine, Blueberry and Lime, to complement the original Bondi Blue.

"This is going to take consumer computing to a whole new level," Jobs said, during the opening speech of the Macworld conference in San Francisco. Also, the price of the iMac will be lowered to $1,199 (£731) from $1,299 (£792). California--based Apple said the original turquoise iMacs will sell for a limited time at $1,049 (£640).

Jobs also introduced a new line of professional-level Macintosh computers, based on the same G3 processor as the iMac, and with a similar translucent-blue design. The PCs will make use of FireWire, a high-speed technology for connecting everything from storage devices to video cameras. The new line uses a 400MHz processor, which Apple hopes will lure not only professionals but gamers as well. In fact, much of Jobs' speech focused on games, and the undeniable mass appeal they have for computer users.

The new pro G3 line will come equipped with an ATI Rage 128 graphics accelerator for speedy 3-D graphics, a requirement for games. Intel PCs have long held the upper hand in PC graphics. Jobs said Apple will license the Open GL development environment from Silicon Graphics Inc. Open GL is commonly used in gaming development. To take advantage of the hardware, a slew of popular games are on their way to the Mac platform. Tomb Raider III (with brainy heroine Lara Croft), Quake II, StarCraft and several others will be available within 120 days, or are already out, Jobs said.

The hotly anticipated Quake III Arena will be released simultaneously on the Mac and Microsoft Windows platforms, according to game developer Id. On Monday, Connectix rolled out Virtual Game Station, an application that allows the Mac to run games from the popular Sony PlayStation game console.

Other new software includes Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.5, which includes improved printing, integration with the Mac OS's Sherlock search program and other new features. Jobs said 1,355 applications have been introduced or renewed since the release of the iMac in 1998.

Also on the software side, Jobs announced the release of OS X Server, which uses core technology from OS X, Apple's next-generation operating system. That operating system is slated for release later this year.

A new survey of iMac buyers found that 32 percent of those purchasing the consumer computer were first-time PC buyers, a desirable demographic since it expands Apple's market reach into new territory. In addition, Apple said 13 percent of buyers were converts from Windows-based PCs. The remaining 55 percent were existing Mac users. Jobs said 82 percent of iMac buyers were connected to the Internet.

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