By Colin Browne
The company took a hammering at the end of 2000 as users declared the PowerMac uncompetitive with Wintel rivals. Apple took those comments on board and updated the entire range for 2001.
Apple boss Steve Jobs seemed to douse all the fires that started at the company last quarter with a spread of product fixes and updates at Macworld Expo in San Francisco yesterday. Apple, which had been flying high until recently, suffered a sales shortfall because of the uncompetitive specifications of some of its top machines, Jobs said in December. Jobs referred to a "megahertz gap" which PowerMacs faced with their competitors, and said that the company planned to respond by introducing models with faster processors.Jobs was also frank about Apple’s misreading of customer demand for writable CD-ROM drives as standard equipment on new Macintosh systems. Those drives are popular with users who like to create their own CDs of music downloaded from the Web. "We completely missed the boat on CD-read/write drives," Jobs said. "We completely blew this one."But things look well on Planet Apple today following the launch yesterday of faster Power Mac models, which include writable CD drives.The new Power Mac G4 line includes machines with processor clock speeds of 466, 533, 667 and 733 MHz. The 466 and 533 models are available immediately, while the other two will be available in February, Apple said.Writable CD drives will be complemented by Apple's new iTunes software, to let users burn their own standard audio CDs.In addition, Apple unveiled a new "SuperDrive" that can record both audio and video streams. The SuperDrive, which comes as standard equipment on the new top Power Mac G4 model, can be used to create DVDs that can be played in standard DVD players.Separately, Apple said its long-awaited OS X operating system will ship on March 24, with a price tag of US$129. Apple says it has shipped more than 100,000 copies of the public test version of OS X since its release in September. Apple will begin bundling OSX with new Macs in July, Jobs said. "We think we've got something really, really good here," said Jobs, saying that 350 software developers have pledged to work with Apple to develop applications tailored to OS X. Jobs said that "hundreds" of those applications would be released this spring, but said "the avalanche [of releases] is going to be this summer," just as Apple begins to bundle the new operating system as its default standard.