Apple Greets 'Year Of The Notebook' - InformationWeek
01:34 PM

Apple Greets 'Year Of The Notebook'

Macintosh maker debuts two models as it seeks to expand laptop sales to half of its shipments.

2003 will be Apple's "Year of the Notebook," CEO Steve Jobs said Tuesday, as the Macintosh maker aims to expand laptop sales to half its shipments.

Speaking at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Jobs unveiled a PowerBook with a 17-inch screen and a low-priced, lightweight PowerBook with a 12-inch screen. Apple also introduced new software, including a Web browser called Safari and a presentation app called Keynote.

"I read some of the rumor sites which said this is going to be the most boring Macworld in history," Jobs said. "I guess you shouldn't believe everything you read."

Sales of higher-priced portables could help Apple's profit margins, which have been under pressure. About one-third of Apple's computer shipments last year were notebooks, and Jobs said the proportion will grow slightly this year. Within a few years, the company wants half its shipments to be portable computers. "We want to replace even more desktops with notebooks," Jobs said.

Apple posted a net loss of $45 million for its fourth quarter ended Sept. 28, compared with a $66 million profit in the year-ago quarter. Revenue was unchanged at $1.4 billion, but gross margins fell by nearly four percentage points. A Merrill Lynch report released Monday urged investors to sell Apple shares because of a "skimpy" outlook for new products and continued market-share losses.

The Macworld announcements aimed to dispel that criticism. The new 17-inch-screen PowerBook features a keyboard that lights up when the room goes dark, a 1-GHz G4 processor, and a 60-Gbyte hard drive. It weighs 6.8 pounds and includes build-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless connection capabilities. It's slated to ship next month at a list price of $3,299. The 12-inch-screen version weighs 4.6 pounds, features an 867-MHz G4 processor, a 40-Gbyte hard drive, and Bluetooth capability, and it will ship this month for $1,799.

All new Macs will boot up in the Mac OS X operating system only. "The 10 transition is basically over," Jobs said. Apple claims 5 million users of OS X, and the company's new applications run only on version 10.2 of the operating system, called Jaguar.

Also Tuesday, Apple released a $49 software suite called iLife that includes iTunes 3, iPhoto 2, iMovie 3, and iDVD 3 apps; a free Web browser for OS X called Safari that Apple says beats Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator on benchmark tests for speed; and a $99 presentation-making package called Keynote that saves files in XML format, imports and exports Microsoft PowerPoint files, and exports PDF and QuickTime files.

Jobs also said that Apple's 51 stores generated $148 million in revenue for the company's first quarter ended Dec. 31, up from $100 million in the fourth quarter. Apple is scheduled to report first-quarter results Jan. 15.

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