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Computing

Surfing Silicon Valley: Apple Dips Below $1,000

Lefevre

(But screaming, streaming DVD will cost you more)

October 5, 1999
Web posted at: 10:11 p.m. EDT (0211 GMT)

By San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre

Apple at long last will sell you a Macintosh for less than a grand! Just in time for the Christmas computer-lusting season, Steve Jobs reveals a trio of iMac upgrades. And if you play your rebates right, one of them could cost you a net of $600.

What are they?

  • $999 -- iMac with 350 megahertz G3 microprocessor and 64 megs of ram, in blue ("Blueberry")

  • $1,299 -- iMac DV with a DVD drive for playing movies, and 400 megahertz G3 microprocessor, in five colors

  • $1,499 -- iMac DV Special Edition with a DVD drive and lots of ram encased in "stunning graphite."

    All machines will feature a "slot loading" CD-ROM drive. No more drawer to stick out. They will also sound better, Apple says, with a new speaker system developed with help from Harmon Kardon. Any in-case system would be hard pressed to beat the likes of Cambridge SoundWorks' trio of PC speaker systems.

    iMac
    The "Grape" version of the iMac DV  

    Why new iMacs?

    Because Apple could counter the tumbling prices of its Win-tel competitors -- and needed to.

    Apple is also on a roll right now. With some non-believers converting to the Mac Operating System, Apple has a good head of steam going.

    How short the memories of PC lovers who dismissed Apple and the Mac format as late as last year. Among them was Intuit, which dumped, then reinstated, its support for Quicken for the Mac.

    What does this mean, really?

    More Mac choices. The original one-size-iMac-fits-all in fact doesn't fit all. Never did.

    The retailing concept of "price points" still applies to computers. Many buyers can afford a $600 computer but not an $800 model. By moving its base model to the nominal "sub $1,000" price, Apple hopes a new category of computer buyers will at least consider the iMac.

    More Macs out there. The viability of the Mac Operating System -- and with it the very survival of Apple -- is dependent on converts. One of the more important figures Apple touts each year is the number new Mac OS users. The G3 and new G4 desktop and PowerBook computers will largely go to existing Mac users first. That does little to expand the Mac universe. That's for the iMac to do.

    And so far, it's doing the job well.

    Apple continues its rebate program with CompuServe (sold as a bargain service of America Online) that could be worth $400. Typically these rebates require a long-term Internet service commitment, which may or may not cost you less over the term.

    At last: Easy editing for video!

    Nearly lost in the announcement is Apple's release of its Cub Scout video editing software, iMovie. This is a product with real promise.

    With a look taken from the QuickTime pallete, iMovie lets you take video from your DV camera, suck it into the computer, cut out the dull scenes, add some special effects and record it back into your camera.

    The sequence has been predictable: Computers made it easy to write with word processing software, then easy graphic editing, then easy photo enhancement and editing.

    Someone needed to make video editing as easy and everyday as word processing. Apple says it has done that with iMovie.

    Surf on ...


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