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Jobs tells Apple workers: "We can't relax"

In his latest all-hands meeting with Apple staff, CEO Steve Jobs pledges to continue fighting for market share for Macs.

In his latest all-hands meeting with Apple Computer staff, CEO Steve Jobs pledged Thursday to continue fighting for Mac market share and reiterated the company's predictions of a small profit in the current quarter.

"We don't 'own' any market," Jobs told staff members. "We're going to keep fighting for customers. We can't relax: There are three other big companies that will gladly take them away from us."

According to sources, Jobs spoke and fielded questions for about an hour. After expressing his determination not to repeat the loss incurred last quarter, Jobs said that pre-orders for new Macs the company introduced at this month's Macworld Expo in San Francisco should push Apple back into the black in the current quarter.

Jobs warned staffers not to expect a rapid spike in the value of their shares. The drop in Apple stock hit many on the company's staff hard since the company issued a profit warning in the fall. But he also predicted that Apple will continue to see a gradual rise in value in the coming months.

Attendees said Jobs told them that the Titanium PowerBook G4 will begin shipping next week and that Apple is on track to deliver its new, top-of-the-line Power Mac G4 professional desktops next month. The 733MHz and 667MHz Power Macs will feature firmware tweaks that will optimize the performance of their new SuperDrives from Pioneer, which can read and write both CDs and DVDs. Firmware, which occupies a middle ground between hardware and software, stores a device's configuration settings.

Jobs, who was clad in his trademark faded jeans and black turtleneck, touted the company's DVD strategy, which includes the newly announced iDVD software and the SuperDrive. He compared DVD authoring to desktop publishing, which catapulted the Mac to prominence in the 1980s. He cited Compaq Computer as another PC manufacturer that has adopted the SuperDrive for its desktop systems, but Jobs said Apple's firmware and software will give it an advantage over other companies using the SuperDrive.

As for the operating system, Jobs predicted a gradual launch for Mac OS X, which is scheduled to begin shipping March 24. Jobs said Apple will hold off its marketing firepower for the new OS until summer, when more third-party software will be available and the company expects to deliver Mac OS X pre-loaded on all its hardware.

"We're going to let them grab it out of our hands," he said.