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Support for Mac platform grows

Peripheral makers and game developers are lining up behind Apple with products to complement the new generation of iMacs and Power Macs.

SAN FRANCISCO--Peripheral makers and game developers lined up behind Apple today with new products to complement the new generation of iMacs and Power Macs.

The resurgent popularity of the Macintosh platform, spurred by greater-than-expected iMac sales, is prompting these companies to expand their product lines. In turn, hardware and software from third-party vendors is crucial to the growth of the Apple platform.

Knowing this, Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs boasted of iMac's popularity today at Macworld. Either 1,300 new or upgraded titles have been made available in the last eight months, according to the company.

Many of the hardware offerings released this week revolve around the Universal Serial Bus (USB) and the "FireWire" interface, which are included as features on the new iMacs and the Power Macs. USB is an external plug-in port that is faster than traditional ports and connects to a wider variety of devices. FireWire is an even faster connection port that allows users to hook up entertainment devices and peripherals to a computer.

Ariston Technologies, for example, announced the "iView" USB video image capture device. The iView essentially is a portable motion picture and still image camera that lets the user capture images without having to open the computer and install an internal video capture device. It supports VCR, TV, and other formats, according to the company.

"The iMac is uniting the powerful simplicity of the Macintosh with the limitless possibilities of the Internet," said Phil Schiller, vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, in a prepared statement. "We're thrilled to see so many valued developers like Ariston embracing iMac's USB standard."

VST Technologies announced the immediate availability of the VST iMac external floppy drive. The USB drive has a capacity of 1.44MB and sells for $99.95. In the second quarter, VST and Castlewood Systems will then follow up with external storage for FireWire. Castlewood's system will be able to hold up to 2.2GB of data and cost $199.95 with one storage disk. Additional storage disks cost $29.95.

Apple itself also introduced three new monitors to complement its new computers, two standard cathode monitors measuring 21 inches and 17 inches and a 15-inch flat panel display.

On the software side, a host of game developers released Mac versions of popular products. Quake 3: Arena for the Mac was introduced by Id Software. Other games making it to the Mac are Battlezone, Heretic 2, and Zork Grand Inquisitor from Activision, Sim City 3000 from Electronic Arts, and Age of Empires from Microsoft.

Additionally, Microsoft released a new version of Internet Explorer 4.5 for the Macintosh and created a Web site, called Mactopia, for Mac and Microsoft users.