Apple Reconfigures G4 Systems

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Apple Computer, citing delays in the availability of PowerPC G4 chips, announced Wednesday that it is reconfiguring its Power Mac G4 product line with lower-speed versions of the chips. Instead of offering systems with 400MHz, 450MHz, and 500MHz processors, as Apple originally planned, the company will sell the systems with 350MHz, 400MHz, and 450MHz G4 processors at the same respective price points of $1,599, $2,499, and $3,499.

You can order any of the three systems from the Apple Store, but Apple says the 350MHz and 400MHz configurations will be available in 20 days, and the high-end model in 30 days.

The company, in a prepared statement, said that the move "is in response to Motorola's delays in reaching volume production of its 500MHz G4 processor chip, which is now scheduled for availability early next year." Apple also announced that IBM will begin making G4 chips for the Mac in the first half of next year. The statement did not mention the recent earthquake in Taiwan, but analysts have speculated that the temblor could affect G4 supplies.

The new configurations are as follows:

The 350MHz system, selling for $1,599, includes 64MB of RAM, a 10GB Ultra ATA hard drive, and a 24X CD-ROM drive. Based on the same architecture as the blue-and-white G3 systems, this configuration was to originally include a 400MHz G4 chip.

The 400MHz system, priced at $2,499, includes 128MB of RAM, a 20GB Ultra ATA hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive, and an Iomega Zip drive. This configuration uses a new architecture that includes a faster memory bus, support for up to 1.5GB of RAM, an internal FireWire connection, a high-speed AGP port for the display adapter, and connections for Apple's AirPort wireless-networking cards. Apple previously announced that it would offer this configuration with a 450MHz G4 chip.

The 450MHz system, selling for $3,499, includes 256MB of RAM, a 27GB Ultra ATA hard drive, and a DVD-RAM drive. Like the 400MHz system, it uses Apple's new system architecture. Apple originally planned to offer this configuration with a 500MHz G4.

Although the systems feature slower chips than what Apple originally announced, interim CEO Steve Jobs says the Macs "remain very, very fast--easily outperforming Pentium III-based PCs."

On a brighter note, Apple announced that it posted a net profit of $111 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, compared with $106 million for the same quarter a year ago. However, Apple's revenues were $1.34 billion, a 14 percent drop from the fourth quarter of last year.

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