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Jobs expected to unveil new iMacs in Tokyo

In his keynote address broadcast live from Macworld Tokyo, the Apple Computer CEO is expected to introduce new iMacs with rewritable CDs.

Mac fans may need to make a quick "satellite dish" run if they want to catch Steve Jobs' keynote address from Macworld Tokyo on Thursday.

Jobs' talk is expected to bring word of new iMacs with rewritable CD drives as well as possibly other surprises. However, the speech by the Apple Computer CEO is being broadcast live over satellite at 5 p.m. PST Wednesday but will not be available as a QuickTime download until some later date.

In January, Apple announced it was adding rewritable CD drives to its Power Mac line, and analysts have speculated that Apple would quickly add them to the iMac consumer line to take advantage of consumer demand for CD burners as well as Apple's new iTunes software.

Supplies of Apple's two high-end iMac models have dwindled from retail stocks and disappeared from the Apple store in recent weeks, following a $200 instant rebate on those machines--moves that fuel speculation that Apple is ready to revamp the iMac line.

Although the new iMacs seem a virtual lock, there have also been rumors of revamped iBooks or perhaps an upgrade to the slow-selling Cube, though evidence there is thin. Jobs may also highlight the latest prerelease version of Mac OS X, due to go on sale March 24.

Mac fans with Ku-band or C-band satellite access can watch the keynote speech live. Otherwise, it will be available from Apple's Web site at some point.

The trade show comes as Apple has just started shipping the top-of-the-line Power Mac it introduced at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Apple is looking to new products to help revive sagging sales.

Apple is counting on a revamped product line to help reverse sagging sales. The company has said it is banking on a slight profit this quarter after losing $247 million, excluding investment gains, in its most recent quarter.

The company said last month that it was able to pare down the 11 weeks' worth of inventory that had piled up on the shelves of retailers and distributors in late 2000.

However, it appears that sales didn't picked up much in January. According to market researcher PC Data, Apple's sales in U.S. retail stores were down 60 percent last month from the same period a year earlier. Apple's overall sales, including mail order, were down 40 percent in January, year over year.

The biggest bright spot for PC sales has been Europe, Salomon Smith Barney analyst Richard Gardner said in a report Tuesday. However, only 20 percent of Apple's sales come from Europe, Gardner noted.