Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sexy new iMacs aimed at Window fans

Apple just introduced a new line of PCs and software aimed at winning over users of Windows-based PCs.

Apple boss Steve Jobs unveiled a sleek new aluminum-and-glass look for its main desktop computer line, the iMac, that reflects the company's emphasis on design. It also revamped a line of consumer software for the Mac for creating home movies, Web pages and other content that Apple believes will further distinguish Macs from rival PCs running Windows.

The Apple products, including a spreadsheet program called Numbers that will compete with Microsoft's Excel, are part of a years-long campaign by Apple to convert Windows users through sexy products and high-profile television commercials. "A lot of Windows customers are going to switch because of this stuff," Jobs said.

It isn't clear how many users of Windows, which runs the vast majority of the world's PCs, have switched over to Macs. But Apple's Macintosh business has been booming lately, outpacing industry growth in new PC shipments of 13% in the second quarter by nearly three times. Apple sold $2.53 billion in Macs in the second quarter, or 47% of the company's total revenue in the quarter.

The growth has allowed Apple to make steady gains in market share, but the company still has a small slice of the business, with a bit more than 5% of new PC shipments in the US.

The new PC products from the company come at a time when much of its attention has shifted to consumer-electronics devices, a shift marked earlier this year when it changed its corporate name to Apple Inc. from Apple Computer Inc.

Apple's new suite of consumer software, called iLife '08, showed further signs of growing collaboration between Apple and search-engine giant Google Inc., another Microsoft nemesis. One program in the suite for designing Web pages, called iWeb, lets users join AdSense, a Google service that allows users to display advertisements on their Web sites. Apple and Google have also worked together on mapping and search software for the iPhone, Apple's new cellular phone.

The new iMacs come with a brushed-aluminum shell and a glass screen, replacing the mostly plastic casing that it used on earlier iMacs. Jobs said the shift in materials will give the new computers a clearer display with a more standout appearance. He added that the materials are more recyclable than the previous plastics Apple used, which might appease groups that have criticized Apple's past environmental practices.

The new iMacs, available today, cost between $1,199 and $1,799, depending on screen size, speed and other features. Those prices are still higher than those for low-end Windows PCs, though Apple says they compare favorably with higher-quality PCs, and are lower than the models they replace. (info from the Wall Street Journal.)

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