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Apple to slash notebook prices

Making way for new notebooks with PowerPC 750 processors, Apple will slash prices by as much as $1,000.

    Apple Computer is set to drastically slash prices on some PowerBook notebook computers, by as much as $1,000, as it makes way for updated notebooks with the recently announced PowerPC 750 processor. The company is also expected to cut prices on high-end desktop computers.

    Though the price cuts come in the wake Apple's decision to effectively shut down the Macintosh clone market, interim Apple CEO Steve Jobs promised that price reductions were forthcoming, speaking yesterday at a major computer industry conference. This is good news for Mac users, since there has been some concern that with the elimination of clone vendor competition, prices would remain higher than in the past.

    In September, Motorola said it would stop producing Mac clones. Apple also bought back Power Computing's license for the Mac OS, effectively taking it out of the Macintosh market. Power Computing was the largest Macintosh clone vendor.

    The PowerBook 3400/240 with 240-MHz PowerPC 603e processor will get a price cut next week of $1,000, or 18 percent, from $5,499 to $4,499 to make way for new notebooks that could be Apple's first computers to use the new PowerPC 750 processor. The PowerBook 3400 is Apple's high-end notebook PC line.

    The new notebook will be introduced at the end of the month with a 250-MHz PowerPC 750, as first reported by PowerPage, a widely read site covering Apple notebook news.

    The new processor is expected to outperform the 240-MHz 603e currently used in the 3400/240 by a significant margin. The PowerPC 750 processor has enhancements to improve the way data flows inside the processor and the chip's onboard, high-speed "cache" memory and offers performance equivalent to, or better than, the PowerPC 604e, which is used in workstation-class computers.

    The new notebook will again top anything available for notebooks based on Intel processors. Currently the fastest notebook available is a 233-MHz MMX Pentium. The PowerPC 750 is generally considered by industry analysts to have performance roughly equivalent to Intel's next-generation Pentium II processor, which is not yet available for use in notebooks.

    Apple will also reduce prices on the 3400c/200 with 200-MHz 603e from $4,499 to $3,799, a reduction of $700 and the 3400c/180 with 180-MHz 603e from $3,999 to $3,199, a reduction of $800. Prices on PowerBook 1400s will drop by up to $500, including the recently introduced 1400c/166 with 166-MHz PowerPC 603e.

    Apple is also expected to drop prices next week on a number of Power Macintosh 9600 and 8600 computers, which are targeted at scientific and content creator markets. For example, a 9600/300 with 300-MHz 604e PowerPC and 64MB of memory will be priced at $3,699, a reduction of $700 from $4,399.

    Also, a Power Macintosh 8600/300 with 300-MHz 604e PowerPC, 32MB of memory and a 100MB Zip drive will be priced at $3,099, a reduction of $600. The 8600/250 with 250-MHz PowerPC 604e and 32MB of memory will be priced at $2,599, a reduction of $600.

    Apple could not be reached for comment.