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Jobs announces two new notebooks

Apple's interim chief executive touts the new PowerBooks at the Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose.

SAN JOSE, California--Apple interim chief executive Steve Jobs announced two new notebooks--along with updates to the Macintosh operating system and a new distribution deal with Sears--at the company's Worldwide Developer Conference here.

Jobs made the announcements Audio of Jobs' speech at the meeting of 2,500 Apple partners and developers. The various deals and products are likely to add to what has been a string of positive events for the company. Apple stock is near an all-time high, riding the wave of popularity driven by the company's iMacs, which have been among the best-selling computers since their release last summer.

Apple also received much publicity--and millions of hits to its Internet site--from hosting trailers to the upcoming Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Apple teamed up with Lucasfilms to put the movie's first video clip on the Internet, using Apple's QuickTime 4.0 multimedia software.

The two new PowerBooks offer some significant advantages compared to their predecessors, Jobs said, including advances in weight, size, and battery life. Apple's new notebooks start at $2,499.

Jobs also announced that the company's popular iMacs will be offered in 825 Sears department stores, starting Memorial Day weekend. Sears will also carry a wide range of iMac peripherals that plug into iMac's USB port, including printers and disk drives. iMac is currently offered through a wide range of retail chains, computer dealers, catalog resellers, and online through The Apple Store.

"More than 50 percent of computer buyers at Sears are buying their first computer," said Chuck Cebuhar, Sears vice president and general manager, in a press release. "iMac is a perfect choice for our customers who want an Internet-ready computer that's easy to buy, easy to set up, and easy to use."

Jobs also introduced Mac OS 8.6, an incremental update to the Macintosh operating system featuring an updated version of personal search engine Sherlock, advanced power management for longer battery life, increased PowerBook support for mobile phones, improved USB and Firewire integration, and support for rewritable DVD.

Apple is shipping a developer's See related news from preview of Mac OS X, but has delayed the final release from this fall to early 2000, Jobs said. OS X was announced at last year's developer's conference.

The new notebooks offer 14.1-inch displays, weigh around 6 pounds, down from 8 pounds, and are 20 percent slimmer than previous PowerBooks, Jobs said. The notebooks also offer 5 hours of battery life, much longer than typical notebook performance of around 2 hours.

The systems will debut running at 333 MHz and 400 MHz, Jobs said. The 333-MHz notebook will be priced at $2,499, while the 400-MHz version will cost $3,499.

OpenGL for Macintosh, a version of SGI's application programming interface (API) and software library for 3D graphics began shipping today, Apple announced.

Jobs also touted the capabilities of the recently released QuickTime 4, saying that there were one million downloads of the beta version in the first two weeks of its release. In addition to adding the ability to do live streaming, the new software includes the ability to add content "channels." So far, Bloomberg television, BBC, HBO, and PBS station WGBH Boston are on the list.

"We're continuing to announce new content partners as the weeks roll on," said Jobs, hinting at adding some big name content partners. One potential place Apple could showcase these upcoming partners: at the company's recently registered domain name Apple still has not revealed exact plans for the site, but sources close to Apple have speculated that the company will use the site to showcase its technology in much the same fashion that Real Networks does with its site.