By Michelle Sturman
A new collection of high-powered G4s, an impending OS, and an incredible notebook aim to boost flagging sales for Apple.
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 in January. Apple, which had been flying high until the last quarter of 2000, suffered a sales shortfall because of the uncompetitive specifications of some of its top machines, Jobs said in December. He spoke then of what he called a “megahertz gap” between Apple systems and their Wintel competitors, and said 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. “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 last month 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 now, while the other two will be available during the course of this month, 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. The innovations aren’t running dry either. True to form, Macworld gave the Mac community something new to lust after. This time out it is the PowerBook G4, a 1 inch thick portable ‘supercomputer’ in an ultralight titanium body