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Apple powers up Macs

Apple is set to launch small business systems and the first consumer models under the Power Macintosh brand name.

Apple Computer (AAPL) will announce on Friday new small business systems as well as the first consumer models under the Power Macintosh brand name, including a 300-MHz system.

The announcements will be the first from Apple since the March 14 reorganization and reflect its continued strategy of simplifying product offerings by grouping several lines under one brand name.

The new small business 6500/250 as well as an enhanced version of the 4400/200 will bear the Power Macintosh name. The new systems will be marketed as a part of the Small Business Macintosh Series.

Apple is also expected to announce new consumer models with 603e PowerPC processors ranging in speed from 225-MHz to 300-MHz and will feature 12X CD-ROM drives and up to 4 GB hard drives.

This will be the first time that a 300-MHz processor has made an appearance in a home computer. By contrast, the fastest Pentium processor from Intel has a clock speed of 200-MHz.

The new consumer systems previously were sold under the Performa brand name. In the March reorganization, marketing activities were consolidated under a single business unit instead of under each product division. At that time, the Performa name for consumer computers was dropped in favor of Power Macintosh.

The 6500/250 will come in a minitower case and will feature a 250-MHz 603e PowerPC processor. The consumer systems are expected to also bear the same 6500 name and case design.

The Small Business Macintosh 4400/200, first announced in February, features a 200-MHz 603e PowerPC processor and is distinguished from other 4400 models by its bundled software and lack of ethernet card.