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Apple Intros G4 Cube Computer, New iMacs at Macworld

NEW YORK — Apple CEO Steve Jobs did not fail the Apple faithful who attended the Macworld Expo today where he showed off fully revamped iMacs and Power Macs, unveiled the new Power Mac G4 Cube computer and, almost as a side note, introduced a more user-friendly mouse and keyboard.

Apple and Circuit City also inked a deal announced yesterday to place iMacs and iBook notebook computers in all Circuit stores, giving Apple two national retailers along with Sears. Best Buy had carried Apple but dropped the line in 1999.

Jobs once again used his Macworld keynote address as the venue to introduce new Apple products. Jobs presentation this year had less flash and more substance than past Macworld keynotes as he methodically went through the new iMacs and G4 Power Mac lines. He saved some of his razzle-dazzle for the introduction of the Power Mac G4 Cube by waiting untill the end of the speech to bring up the new models. In addition, he took a large amount of time personally demonstrating improvements in the iMovie software and the upcoming OS X operating system.

The G4 Cube drew gasps from the Mac fans. The Cube is Apple’s first new product class in two-and-a-half years. The two-unit line is essentially a boiled-down Power Mac G4, Jobs said, packing all the power found in the professionally-oriented Power Macs into a simply-designed 8-inch cube. The Cube is about one-quarter the size of a Power Mac but still contains either a 450MHz or 500MHz G3 processor and DVD-ROM drive. The computer itself is mounted in a clear plastic case that can be removed easily for upgrading by a consumer.

The basic model has a $1,799 suggested retail price and comes standard with 64MB of RAM and a 20GB hard drive, while the step up costs $2,299 and has double the RAM and hard drive capacity. Both models are expandable and will ship in August. However, the $2,299 version will be available only at Apple’s online store.

The iMac line received a new suit of colors spread over four new models and a new entry-level suggested price point of $799. The new color scheme replaces the five-color line that has been in stores since January 1999.The new line starts out with the indigo iMac that will ship in September. It has a 350MHz G3 processor, 64MB of RAM, 7.5GB hard drive and a CD-ROM drive. The step up is the $999 iMac DV that is available in indigo and ruby. The iMac DV has a 400MHz G3 and a 10GB hard drive. The iMac DV+ will come in indigo, ruby and sage (a clear green hue), and add a DVD-ROM drive, 450MHz G3 and a 20GB hard drive for $1,299. The top-end model is the iMac DV Special Edition. It is available in the current graphite and new snow colors and has a $1,499 suggested retail price. This computer features a 500MHz G3, 128MB of RAM and a 30GB hard drive. All but the indigo iMac are now shipping.

All the iMacs will come bundled with the new mouse and keyboard and Apple’s iMovie video editing software. Jobs said Circuit City will merchandise its digital video camcorders next to the iMacs to show customers how the two products can work together.

“I’m very excited by the introductions. The iMac line had to be refreshed,” said Tony Violanti, sales VP for the Mac specialty chain ComputerTown in Salem, N.H. Violanti was not concerned about competing with Circuit City, saying the added exposure will be good for Apple. Also, consumers looking for something more than an iMac or iBook will still have to go to a Mac specialty store to make a purchase.

The Power Mac G4 line also received a much needed refresh. The two higher-end models have dual 450MHz or 500MHz processors, a first for Apple, while the entry-level model has a single 400MHz chip. Prices range from $1,599 to $3,499 and all are now shipping.

Jobs was particularly proud of the new mouse and keyboard. The redesigned mouse is oval and uses an optical tracking technology instead of a mouse ball to move the cursor. The keyboard is basically a reintroduction of the keyboard that Apple had shipped with its computers several years ago, Jobs said.

For the time being these are not available to retailers and only being sold at the Apple online store with suggested retail prices of $59.