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Apple Introduces Faster Power Macs

Analysts say the speedy computers should do well among workers in creative jobs, a key market for the company.

June 24, 2003|Joseph Menn | Times Staff Writer

Apple Computer Inc. introduced a high-powered desktop machine Monday that allows it to claim -- for now -- the fastest processing speed among personal computers for many popular applications.

The redesigned G5 line, using chips co-designed and manufactured by IBM Corp., is the first family of PCs to employ the kind of 64-bit chips used in more powerful corporate workstations. It revamps the professional G4 line and will begin shipping in August at a price of $1,999 to $2,999.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs showed off the new computers and previewed other products at the start of a conference for 38,000 Apple software developers in San Francisco.

Programmers responded enthusiastically, and analysts said the speedy G5 computers should do well among workers in creative jobs, a key market for Apple.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 25, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 1 inches; 35 words Type of Material: Correction
Apple computers -- An article in Tuesday's Business section about Apple Computer Inc.'s new products incorrectly stated that 38,000 software developers are attending a San Francisco conference sponsored by Apple. In fact, 3,800 are attending.

"Apple's kind of set the stage for a pro model upgrade cycle," said Lehman Bros. analyst Jon Horvath, who owns no Apple shares.

Competing high-end machines using Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating system and chips from Intel Corp. or Advanced Micro Devices Inc. aren't as fast, Apple said, but they are catching up. Some of those computers will start using 64-bit chips later this year. Microsoft-powered PCs account for more than 90% of the market.

Apple also said it is bringing audio and video capabilities to its version of instant messaging, which it calls iChat. Microsoft includes similar features in the Windows XP operating system, but Apple's variant needs no configuration and makes video conferencing almost as simple as regular instant messaging, Jobs said. Besides an Apple-compatible camera, which costs about $80 or more, "all you need is a buddy name," he said.

So far Apple users can use the new functions to connect only with other Apple users.

The video features are available only with high-speed Internet connections; users with slower dial-up connections can add audio to their text instant messages, Jobs said.

"It's an interesting product, but this probably won't make a major impact" on instant messaging, said independent analyst Michael Osterman of Osterman Research Inc. Apple's share of the PC market is less than 3%. It does better in the consumer market, but that's where broadband is scarcest. That combination means "you're talking to a relatively small part of the total universe," he said.

AOL Time Warner Inc.'s AOL Instant Messenger is the most popular product in this category. But under an agreement with antitrust regulators, America Online can't add video to AIM unless it allows the service to communicate with rivals, a step the biggest Internet service provider hasn't been willing to take.

Apple's efforts to add features to iChat underscore the degree to which computer makers are pushing communications and entertainment instead of traditional workplace productivity functions to persuade people to buy new PCs. Eight weeks ago, Apple introduced a digital music store -- also limited to Apple owners -- that Jobs said has sold 5 million songs so far.

Also at the conference, Apple said its Safari Web browser is available for free from the company's Web site.

Safari's success is crucial for the company because Microsoft said recently that it would stop making new versions of its Internet Explorer browser for Apple computers.

Apple shares slipped 14 cents to $19.06 on Nasdaq.

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