MacCentral Week in Review
Editorial: News week
By David Leishman, email@example.com
I don't know if Apple had something for everyone this week, but it sure issued a barrage of products and announcements. The stock market liked what it heard so much that it sent the company's stock price over the $30 mark to a 52-week high.
On the hardware front, Apple released a new trio of Power Mac G5s, ranging in speed up to 2.5GHz, which, while it doesn't meet Steve Jobs promise of 3.0 GHz computers "by the end of the summer," is a nice bump.
While the Mac's speed-boost is welcome, the most intriguing new feature is the addition of liquid cooling (LC) to the highest-end model. Apple isn't the first computer manufacturer to travel this path -- IBM and Hitachi both have previously released LC laptops, and IBM was issued a patent for an LC system in 1970! But the hope here is that Apple soon will be able to leverage its cooling system into a means of putting G5s into iMacs and, by early next year, PowerBooks. (For a primer on LC, check the Liquid Cooling 101 site.)
Although the new desktops are the biggest news around my house, the world-at-large seems more captivated by Apple's other news: the introduction of AirPort Express, a 6.7-ounce wireless base station that doubles as a tool for streaming music from one's iTunes Music Library; and the announcement of a special music event in London, where, according to Apple, "the biggest story in music is about to get even bigger."
Macworld's Jason Snell has the best coverage on AirPort Express that I've read, so I suggest you check out his entries on the magazine's blog. ( 1, 2, 3 ) I think Express's broadest appeal at present is to travelers or those looking for inexpensive Wi-Fi, but that well may change. Perhaps the most interesting part of Snell's reporting includes notes on his talk with Greg Joswiak, Apple's Vice President of Hardware Product Marketing, wherein the latter agrees that "some sort of remote-control device would be a cool addition" that would free users from needing to manipulate their computers or iPods to enjoy wireless music.
As a sidelight, it's interesting to note that Agere Systems last week announced an 802.11G Wi-Fi mini-module designed for handheld consumer electronics, swathed in the colorful catch-phrase "making personal broadband a reality." Embedded in an iPod, this could offer 100 meters of wireless connectivity coupled with low power consumption. Hmmm.
Love it or hate it, downloaded music is growing at a prodigious rate. Apple announced this week that its music store has now surpassed 85 million downloads. And, to no one's surprise, Steve Jobs acknowledged that Apple's London music event would launch the European iTunes Music Store. Although Roxio's Napster and Sony's Connect music services got there before Apple, Peter Cohen notes that the UK may prove to be a lucrative market for Apple, as one in six iPods sold worldwide during the 2003 holiday quarter were sold there.
So, all the news this week looks pretty good. And the new cooling system could mean that a new iMac isn't too far in the future. Now all we need is some official word about the status of Apple's next-generation monitors, and the company's product lines will be fully 2004-ized.
Apple on Wednesday announced three new dual-processor Power Mac G5 configurations, with the fastest model topping out at 2.5GHz. The new high-end systems miss the 3GHz mark that Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the company would achieve at last year's WWDC, but Tom Boger, Apple's Director of Power Mac Product Marketing, said this was due to a technological challenge that was bigger than expected. Boger also said that users shouldn't expect to see a PowerBook G5s before the end of the year.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Monday introduced AirPort Express, a tiny mobile 802.11g-based wireless networking base station, available in July for US$129, that comes equipped with a combination analog and digital audio connector. The device will act as a portable base station for traveling, but when used at home, will also connect consumers' home stereos with their iTunes Music Library.
ATI Technologies Inc. announced Wednesday that it's shipping the Radeon 9800 Pro Mac Special Edition graphics card, the first Mac graphics card equipped with 256MB, and the first card designed specifically to work only in Power Mac G5 systems. The card features DDR memory, 680MHz data rate and a core engine speed of 380MHz; it features ADC and DVI outputs and costs US$399.
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Adobe on Tuesday introduced a new Java-based server platform that is designed to help automate and accelerate the flow of information in an organization using PDF documents. Adobe also unveiled several new and updated products that take advantage of the new Intelligent Document Platform, which makes PDF with XML additions a common way to get data in and out of enterprise systems.
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Around the Web
MacCentral's Jim Dalrymple spoke with Chris Bourdon, Apple's product manager for Mac OS X, about the system migration feature in the new Power Mac G5s Setup Assistant application that helps users make the transition from their old computer to the new one. It's designed to ameliorate the copying of applications, files, folders, user account information and system preferences from old to new hardware, using FireWire to bridge a connection.
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