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Apple slices PowerBook prices

Apple Computer is now offering a notebook with a 14.1-inch screen for under $2,000 as the company gets serious about being price competitive with Windows laptops.

    Apple Computer said it is now offering a notebook with a 14.1-inch screen for under $2,000 as the company gets serious about being price competitive with notebooks that feature Windows operating systems.

    The PowerBook G3 with 233-MHz PowerPC processor and 14.1-inch active matrix screen was cut $300, or 13 percent, the second price cut in as many months on models in its portable lineup.

    In other news, Hewlett-Packard said it reduced prices on its OmniBook 4150 series notebooks from seven to 17 percent.

    Apple said the system, first introduced in May of 1998, is now the industry's lowest priced portable with a 14.1-inch display. Sony does offer a 300-MHz Pentium II notebook with a 14.1-inch display and similar features for the same price, although it doesn't include built-in networking like the Apple does.

    Meanwhile, HP said prices for the OmniBook 4150 with a 300-MHz Pentium II, 14.1-inch active matrix display, and 64MB of memory will now start at $3,100, a reduction of seven percent. A system with 366-MHz Pentium II and larger hard disk drive had its price reduced by about 17 percent to $3,599.

    Apple paring prices to compete with Dell
    In November 1997, interim CEO Steve Jobs said Apple was "coming after" Dell Computer.

    So how is Apple faring with its current pricing against direct vendor Dell? An Inspiron with a 14.1-inch display comes with a 300-MHz Pentium II; similarly equipped, the system is priced at $2,487, although the price does include a copy of Microsoft Office 97.

    The price cut is intended to stimulate demand for the Apple notebooks, which are due to be refreshed perhaps as soon as May this year, according to various industry sources.

    While the price cuts only affect the entry level G3 system, Apple is offering a limited time deal to all PowerBook customers. Users who purchase systems through April 30 will get a coupon for either software from Connectix, which allows users to run Windows 98 software (Windows 98 is included in the deal), or an additional 64MB of memory. PowerBook runs the Mac OS. The Connectix deal will help Mac users tap into the huge market for Windows software.

    "PowerBook sales have been flat, but with the promotion, the interest will be a bit stronger," said one reseller who wished to remain anonymous.