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Details of Apple consumer portable emerge

Unconfirmed details continue to trickle out, though Steve Jobs said the notebook would not debut in January.

    Unconfirmed details of Apple Computer's forthcoming consumer portable have trickled out, though interim Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said the notebook would not debut at a trade show early next month.

    As reported Wednesday by CNET News.com, the new portable is expected to weigh less than four pounds and offer a variety of wireless communications options, according to sources. It should be priced between $1,000 and $1,300.

    The consumer system will come with a 300-MHz PowerPC chip and a USB (universal serial bus) port, the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday , also citing sources. The notebook will be translucent and called WebMate, the paper added.

    Trade publications Computer Retail Weekly and MacWeek have also touched on details of Apple's newest notebook in recent weeks.

    The Cupertino, California, company declined to comment on unannounced products, but Apple has previously talked about a "four-box strategy," comprising a lineup of business and consumer desktops and business and consumer portables. So-called G3 desktops and G3 PowerBook notebooks make up Apple's corporate offerings, while the hot-selling iMac takes care of the consumer desktop arena.

    The new notebook will arrive in the first half of 1999, Apple has said, but it will not be introduced at the January 4-8 Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Jobs stated Wednesday at an education conference in Seattle.

    Last weekend,

    Apple G3 PowerBook
    Apple G3 PowerBook
    Apple slashed prices on its PowerBook G3 notebooks, playing catch-up with mid-range and high-end notebooks made by leading Windows-Intel manufacturers, such as Toshiba, Dell, and Compaq. Four G3 models were discounted by as much as $600, reducing Apple's high-end system with a 14-inch display, 300-MHz processor, 64MB of memory, and DVD-ROM drive to $4,399.

    The low-end 233-MHz system with 32MB of memory and a 2GB hard drive was cut by $300 to $2,499.

    The price drops seem to presage Apple's next-generation of PowerBooks, code-named Lombard. These will feature new designs that will be even curvier than the current G3 notebooks and pack in processors as fast as 400 MHz, industry sources told News.com.

    Apple demonstrated a prototype system with such a speedy chip earlier this year, and may show the systems in private sessions at the Macworld Expo.

    Shares of Apple finished today at 33.75. The company's stock has risen steadily during 1998, buoyed by a string of profitable quarters and the iMac's introduction. Touching a low of 12.75 in January, shares reached 43.75 in August, around the time of the iMac's debut.