Air of optimism surrounds Macworld '99
By CNN Interactive Writer Jeremy Church
SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Macworld San Francisco '99, the world's largest showcase of Macintosh products and vendors, unofficially got under way Monday with a Town Hall-style meeting in which several Macintosh experts enthusiastically hailed Apple Computer Inc.'s resurgence.
A packed room of 800 Macintosh enthusiasts, exhibitors and retailers followed up the panelists' comments with questions, most centering on whether Apple can compete in the personal computer industry.
Keith Geck, vice president of business sales for Apple, acknowledged iMac's success in the retail market but said it can also compete in the business world, which is dominated by PCs that run Microsoft software.
The company is seeing "good acceptance for iMac in corporations," he said.
Geck also credited the updated Macintosh operating system, MacOS 8.5, for boosting the turnaround of Apple -- whose stock closed at $41 1/4 per share Monday, up from around $15 per share at this time last year -- in the eyes of consumers and industry professionals alike.
Geck pointed to Apple's future in QuickTime, a program that compresses audio and video on the Web, and digital video.
"We're seeing a real movement where digital video is becoming mainstream in companies," he said.
Despite the upbeat tone of the meeting and the high anticipation for the expo's keynote address by Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and interim CEO, at least one panelist noted that Microsoft still dominates the desktop market.
"The desktop war is over and Microsoft/Intel won," said Tim Bajarin, who has been following Apple as an analyst since 1981.
Still, Bajarin said, Apple could be competitive if it continues to create products that promote "industrial design" and "innovative ergonomics," such as iMac, which Apple hails as the best-selling desktop of the season.
The Moscone Convention Center, site of the four-day expo, is awash in large posters of notable figures, such as Frank Sinatra, alongside Apple's slogan, "Think Different."
The first speaker/entertainer was Web and Internet expert Dave Taylor, who helped set a feel-good tone for the meeting by playing an organ and singing songs.
To the tune "Don't Cry for me Argentina," Taylor put Jobs in the role of Eva Peron and sang, "Don't cry for me Cupertino." Cupertino, California, is the headquarters for Apple.
"I still wear sandals ... in any weather, except for these days ... they're Gucci leather," Taylor said, drawing a laugh from his audience.
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