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Jobs unveils new iPods and iMac

Apple CEO Steve Jobs defends the company's transition to Mac OS X and shows off new iPod digital-audio players and a new flat-panel iMac.

9 min read
NEW YORK--Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday defended the company's switch to the Mac OS X operating system and unveiled new iPod digital-audio players and a new flat-panel iMac.

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Jobs used his keynote speech at the Macworld trade show here to make a flurry of other announcements as well, such as details about new syncing software, the next update to OS X and the end of free iTools.

The most dramatic announcement focused on iPod. The new players include ones built specifically for computers that use Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Apple lowered the price of the existing 5GB iPod to $299 from $399 and a redesigned 10GB model to $399 from $499. The 10GB model will come with a new case and remote control and is 10 percent thinner than its predecessor.

Jobs also introduced a 20GB iPod for $499. The new iPods for Macs will be available in stores in early August, Jobs said.

"But there's one more little thing," Jobs said, in his classic way of unveiling something big. "So today we are introducing iPod for Windows."

This means there are three iPod models for Mac users and three models for Windows users with MusicMatch software.

Apple has partnered with MusicMatch for the syncing software for the iPod for Windows models, which will be in stores in late August.

"We want to take care of the Mac customers first," Jobs said.

The new iPods also come with updated software, which supports a new iTunes 3 Smart Playlist feature and offers more browsing features, such as organization by composer. In another enhancement, Apple added calendaring to the iPod and a clock to support the calendar.

Apple's adding calendaring for iPod follows an earlier move with contacts. At the time, Greg Joswiak, Apple's senior director of hardware product marketing, said the company had no plans to add a calendaring feature, which brings iPod one step closer to full-fledge PDA status.

Bushels of Apple goodies
CEO Steve Jobs laid out a smorgasbord of hardware and software at the Macworld trade show in New York on Wednesday. Some key elements:

New 17-inch, wide-screen LCD model with an 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processor, Nvidia GeForce4 MX graphics, combination CD and DVD burner, and 80GB hard drive. Available in August for $1,999. Price of previous high-end iMac with 15-inch LCD and DVD burner lowered to $1,799 from $1,899.

Replaces the current iTools services, which were free. Includes e-mail, 100MB of Internet storage, Web site publishing and hosting, and backup services. Available now for $99.95 annually. People who were iTools members as of midnight Tuesday and who sign up for .Mac before Sept. 30 get an introductory offer of $49.95 for the first year.

OS X version 10.2
Code-named Jaguar, the operating system upgrade will include an e-mail application that is better at eliminating junk mail, the iChat instant messenger application that's compatible with AOL Instant Messenger, an address book, handwriting recognition technology, QuickTime 6, Sherlock 3 and Rendezvous, a home networking technology. Available Aug. 24 for $129.

The 5GB model was reduced from $399 to $299, the 10GB model was cut from $499 to $399, and a new 20GB will cost $499. All will be available in early August. The 10GB and 20GB models will include a new Apple carrying case and wired remote. iPod now syncs with Musicmatch Jukebox, making it compatible with Windows-based PCs. The PC-compatible version will be available in late August.

Available as a free download, new features include the ability to create playlists that can automatically be updated based on user preferences and the ability to adjust volume for consistent playback. Also supports content from Audible, allowing users to access audio books and other content from the Web.

Allows users to download address books and calendars to Palm OS devices, the iPod and Bluetooth-enabled phones mobile phones. Available as a free download in September.

A new calendar program that allows sharing over the Internet. Available as a free download in September.

As previously reported by CNET News.com, Jobs also introduced a new iMac model with a 17-inch flat-panel monitor. The model offers a widescreen display with 1440-by-900-pixel resolution vs. 1024-by-768-pixel resolution for the 15-inch iMac.

The new iMac features a larger display, 800MHz PowerPC G4 processor, 256MB of RAM, an 80GB hard drive, an Nvidia GeForce4 MX graphics card and a DVD recording drive for $1,999.

Apple also cut the price of the existing high-end iMac to $1,799 from $1,899. Jobs noted that Macs with DVD recording drives are very popular among Apple customers, representing about 50 percent of new sales.

The new machines will be available in about two weeks.

Taking stock of OS X
Jobs started his speech by addressing concerns that sales of Mac OS X aren't stellar.

Earlier in the week, Kevin Browne, head of Microsoft's Macintosh Business unit, charged that Apple had spent 20 times more money promoting the iPod music player than the Mac OS X operating system.

"We think the Mac OS X transition is going well," Jobs said.

Apple has 2.5 million active Mac OS X users. Currently, Apple ships OS X, as well as the older Mac OS 9, on new Macs. About 77 percent of new Mac buyers stick with OS X, Jobs said.

By year's end, he said, Apple expects the number of Mac OS X users to reach 5 million out of an estimated 25 million estimated Mac users. Research firm Gartner puts the number of Mac users lower, at around 18 million.

"We are very confident we are going to reach 5 million active users" by the end of the year, Jobs said.

That would be a growth of zero to 20 percent in 24 months, said Jobs, who characterized that as the fastest operating system transition in history.

Next versions of OS X, QuickTime
Jobs also previewed the next version of Mac OS X, version 10.2, which will be on store shelves Aug. 24 for $129. "We are early, which is a rare thing in software," Jobs said.

OS X 10.2 includes a new Finder with improved search features, spring-loaded folders and the ability to change the background photo as often as every 5 seconds.

Apple's CEO also touted QuickTime 6, which is included in OS X 10.2. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company officially released QuickTime 6 on Monday, with 1 million downloads since then, Jobs said.

QuickTime 6 supports MPEG-4, the successor to MPEG-2. Jobs touted the advantages of open-standard MPEG-4 for making audio and video streaming more ubiquitous, regardless of the player.

"Everybody is going to jump on the MPEG-4 bandwagon, except Microsoft," Jobs said.

On Monday, Microsoft announced that the next version of its audio-video technology, Windows Media 9 Series, would begin testing on Sept. 4. Windows Media 9 does not currently support MPEG-4.

QuickTime wasn't the only streaming news for Mac enthusiasts. RealNetworks CEO Rob Glaser demonstrated the RealOne Player for Mac OS X, which went into beta Wednesday.

New features for OS X
Jobs also touted Sherlock 3, the new version of Apple's search feature, which has been enhanced in Mac OS X 10.2.

"Internet services for the rest of us is what Sherlock 3 is all about," Jobs said. The revamped program offers eBay, stock and address search, among other features.

Another Sherlock 3 feature lets consumers search for movie times at theatres in the area. Sherlock 3 also serves up a preview of the movie while checking for show times.

Jobs then demonstrated Rendezvous, a feature for discovering IP addresses on any network. Rendezvous simplifies finding people or devices on a network, eliminating the need to remember IP addresses. The feature will show up in OS X 10.2. Jobs showed how Rendezvous will allow people to share music files among Macs.

"We're going to build this into iTunes early next year," Jobs said of the company's digital-audio software.

Epson, Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark International plan to include Rendezvous in their printers. "We're not going to have to configure network printers again," Jobs said.

Jobs announced that Apple's free iTools Web services will disappear Sept. 30 and will be replaced with .Mac, which will cost $100 annually.

.Mac would be able available immediately for an introductory price of $50 for the first year for current iTools users.

"The world is changing," Jobs said of the disappearance of free Web services. "We're going to have to reflect that too."

Jobs addressed the .Mac name, which is similar to Microsoft's .Net. Apple saw that it already offered Web services, Jobs said, while Microsoft is still talking about them. "Let's jump in this boat," he said of the .Mac naming.

iCal joins iTunes
Apple also introduced iCal, a new calendaring program. Apple will host iCal calendars from the .Mac service. Apple plans to ship iCal in September. It will run on Mac OS X 10.2.

"Life is about multiple calendars," Jobs said. "You've got to be able to see them all."

People will be able to share iCal calendars over a network, the Web or even using iChat, the new instant messaging client in OS X 10.2.

Jobs proceeded to review the success of the company's digital applications. He noted that Apple had distributed 4 million copies of iPhoto editing software in six months.

As previously reported, he also introduced version 3 of iTunes.

New iTunes 3 features include Smart Playlists, which use rules to do actions such as keep the top 25 played songs.

Jobs demonstrated making a Smart Playlist of Bob Dylan songs, which instantly organized all the songs in one place. Another new iTunes 3 feature lets people rate songs.

The new iTunes, which only runs on Mac OS X, will be available Wednesday for free download.

New application: iSync
Jobs also introduced a new digital application, called iSync, for syncing data to the iPod, a Palm handheld computer and a cell phone. The software is capable of syncing calendars and contacts with any of the three kinds of devices.

The iSync software also will work with .Mac, so that users can sync up address books, calendars and "who knows what else down the road" among computers, Jobs said.

Holly Windsor, a technician in the Howard County public school system in Ellicott City, Md., said she was impressed with iSync.

"I really liked the integration of the external digital devices," said Windsor, who attended the speech. "I work in the school system, where I have to do that a lot. iSync is a beautiful tool." About 75 percent to 80 percent of the computers in her district are Macs.

Mac enthusiasts will need Mac OS X 10.2 to run iSync, which will be available as a free download in September.

"Bluetooth has arrived," said Jobs, referring to iSync's capability to connect to Bluetooth-enabled phones. Bluetooth is a wireless radio connection for devices.

"What we call it is Mac to mobile," Jobs said of iSync.

Katsumi Ihara, president of Sony Ericsson, joined Jobs on stage to promise phone support for iSync.

Jobs pledged the technology would evolve dramatically over the next year. "We want to be able to sync iPhoto albums" with cell phones, Jobs said.

Cingular Wireless is also working with Apple on iSync.

"I was thinking maybe I should change my cell phone to Cingular so that I can use it with iSync," said Mon Chu Chen, a graduate student in human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who attended the speech. Still, he wished that Jobs had introduced more hardware, such as a G5 chip.

Switching sides
Jobs kicked off the speech by showing off new TV ads for the "switchers" marketing campaign, which features PC makers who have moved to the Mac. One commercial features comedian Will Ferrell of "Saturday Night Live."

Since Apple launched the Switchers Web site, Jobs said, 1.7 million visitors have come by--60 percent of them running Microsoft's rival Windows operating system. Jobs also showed a $59 third-party program called Move2Mac that lets people move their data from a PC to a Mac.

Jobs touted the opening of the 32nd Apple retail store. The newest one is in New York City's SoHo. He said Apple's retail stores in total are seeing 100,000 visitors each week.

David Bailey, an independent financial analyst, said that Apple's moves are unlikely to boost sales in the near term but are laying a foundation for its case that people should switch from a PC to Mac.

The speech was "similar to last year's. There was a solid set of announcements but nothing earthshaking," he said.

News.com's Ian Fried and Paul Festa contributed to this report.