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Jobs: Stay the course

Apple is banking on a performance advantage to keep users in publishing from moving over to Windows.

Using familiar themes from past keynotes, Apple Computer (AAPL) interim CEO Steve Jobs outlined new software initiatives for the publishing market and new systems--including one with a 400-MHz processor--as Apple continues to demonstrate a "steady as she goes" attitude about its business plans.

On the software front, the computer maker will offer a

Studio Display monitor
Apple's new 15.1-inch Studio Display monitor
version of its ColorSync color management software for the Windows platform by the end of the year, Jobs said, a move of major significance to content publishers.

In contrast with Jobs's last keynote at Seybold Seminars, his keynote in New York focused less on why Apple will survive and more on what specifically the company is doing to keep the business of some of its core customers.

Apple is banking on a performance advantage over systems using Intel's Pentium II processor to keep customers in the publishing world from moving over to the Windows platform, for one. Jobs demonstrated a variety of Power Macintosh G3 machines to show how Apple's systems "toast" the Pentium II. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.)

Jobs, along with Phil Schiller, vice president of worldwide product marketing, showed off the speed of a new system with a 300-MHz PowerPC 750 processor and a system with a 400-MHz processor, which is not due out until 1999, as previously reported. The executives pitted Apple systems against a 333-MHz Pentium II system from Compaq and claimed that the 300-MHz PowerPC system had performance equivalent to a 600-MHz Pentium II, which isn't yet available from Intel.

"This can add up to several extra hours with your family each day," quipped Jobs in reference to how much more quickly work can be done with the Power Mac systems.

Another Apple strength Jobs touted is publishing technology. Later this year, the company will offer a version of its ColorSync color management software for Windows. ColorSync is a software technology that allows exact replication in a printout, video, or Web site of what users see on their screen, an area where the Macintosh excels over the Windows platform.

"As we moved from the world of black and white to color...things got a lot more complicated," Jobs said. Companies doing business over the Web wish their customers to see accurate color representations of a product so they don't return items, and ColorSync addresses that requirement, he noted, touching on something he hit on at the last Seybold conference.

Quoting Adobe CEO John Warnock, Jobs proselytized that ColorSync "is the lingua franca for cross-platform, cross-application color management."

While some observers at the conference worried that offering Apple color management software for Windows might encourage people to buy Intel-based machines, Jobs said he expects people to stay with Apple because of its performance advantages.

But not all users are as interested in high performance as in having a low-cost machine, and one observer asked Jobs what Apple intended to do in order to address the growing market for "cheap PCs."

"Apple has not built a great consumer product over the last several years. You will see that change this fall," Jobs said. "We are uniquely positioned to be in that space."

As for products introduced today, Apple announced a new 15.1-inch flat-panel display that will sell for $1,999 in addition to the new 300-MHz Power Macintosh G3. (See related story)