Jobs unveils new iMacs, slashes Cube prices

Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs unveils new iMac models in two new psychedelic colors complete with CD-RW drives at Macworld in Tokyo.

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Jobs' keynote at Macworld Tokyo
Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple
Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday unveiled new iMac models in two new psychedelic colors complete with CD-RW drives during his keynote address at Macworld in Tokyo.

Taking the stage in a suit and tie--a departure from his signature black turtleneck and jeans--Jobs also cut the price of the entry-level Power Mac G4 Cube to $1,299 from $1,499. Separately, he introduced a new Cube model with 128MB of memory, a 20GB hard drive and CD-rewritable drive for $1,599. The new Cube uses a 450MHz G4 processor, similar to the low-end version.

As expected, Jobs took the cover off new iMac models, including two new color patterns--blue dalmatian and flower power.

All the versions are available on the Apple online store as of Wednesday.

The high-end model will run at 600MHz, has 128MB of memory and comes in graphite as well as the new patterns, for $1,499. A midrange model will run at 500MHz and come with 64MB of memory for $1,199. Both models will include a CD-rewritable drive, Jobs said.

The new low-end unit runs at 400MHz, comes with 64MB of memory and sells for $899. This version is available only in indigo.

"We think they are a landmark version of the Macintosh," Jobs said.

Adding faster processors and CD-RW drives fills acknowledged gaps in Apple's consumer line; however, doing so could come at a price.

The price of an entry-level iMac goes up $100 with the new line. An Apple representative said it was more important to Apple to add value rather than lower the price of the machines. The representative noted that all the new iMacs include a FireWire port as well as the ability to connect to an external monitor.

In addition, the low-end and midrange iMacs come with only 64MB of memory--not enough to fully run OS X when it debuts next month.

"We ended up having trade-offs," said Linda McNulty, director of worldwide product marketing for Apple.

Also during the keynote address, Jobs introduced Nvidia's newest graphics chip, the Geforce 3. Calling it "amazing," Jobs said the chip would first be available on the Mac.

Jobs said Apple and Nvidia have been working closely together. At Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Jobs announced the first Mac using Nvidia chips, with the Geforce 2 MX standard on three of the four Power Macs introduced there.

John Carmack, founder of game developer Id Software, joined Jobs on the stage to show the power of the Nvidia chip running Apple's upcoming operating system, OS X. Jobs added that the chip would be available in late March as a $600 option on new build-to-order Power Macs.

Jobs also announced price cuts for the company's 22-inch Studio Display flat-panel displays, from $3,999 to $2,999.

Apple plans to release version 1.1 of its iTunes on Thursday, which adds support for 25 third-party CD burners. The original version of the free Jukebox software--which worked only with Apple's CD-RW drive--has been downloaded 750,000 times, Jobs said. Apple also unveiled a Japanese-language version of iTools, Apple's collection of online utilities.

Jobs also showed off the recently introduced Titanium PowerBook G4, noting that there has been a flood of orders and offering an apology to consumers, as many people have yet to receive laptops they have ordered.

"We will get you your PowerBook as soon as we can," Jobs said. "We're working seven days a week."

Jobs threw in some stuff for the home crowd, promising that OS X would ship in the box with Japanese (and other foreign-language) support when it debuts March 24.

He also displayed some Japanese fonts that Apple has licensed and plans to include with the new operating system.

The Tokyo trade show comes as Apple has just started shipping the top-of-the-line Power Mac it introduced during the San Francisco convention. Apple is looking to new products to help revive 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.

Apple said last month that it was able to pare 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 pick 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.