New features, devices add lustre to Apple's
Zisman (c) 2003 First published in
in Vancouver ,? Issue #693? February 4- 10, 2003, High Tech
of public and media attention always outweighs its share of the
market. Some of that comes from the company's long and colourful
some from the showmanship and charisma of Apple's deposed and returned
leader, Steve Jobs and some from the loyalty of customers. A
though, is because of the company's products, which stand out from the
in terms of design, features and usability. Even non-Apple users pay
to the company's product releases, knowing they give a glimpse of what
will eventually appear watered-down in mass-market PCs, music players
other digital devices.
trade show is one of the prime times for the Mac faithful, especially
keynote address in which chairman Jobs shows off the company's latest
greatest. Defying predictions of a low-key event, Jobs recently kept
hopping for more than two hours. New products included a pair of new
including one with the largest screen available on any portable.
include faster-than-ever wireless networking (Apple calls the
industry-standard 802.11g "Airport Extreme"), ultra-fast Firewire
connections and built-in
Bluetooth for wireless connections to printers, cell phones and more.
A new, free
and a presentation graphics program challenge Microsoft's Internet
and PowerPoint, while a lower-priced version of Apple's Final Cut Pro
editor aims at customers who have outgrown Apple's free iMovie. Updates
to Apple's iPhoto, iMovie, iTunes and iDVD further the company's
to make its computers the easiest way for consumers to connect to
cameras, music players and camcorders. Apple's vision for the home
is that a personal computer (preferably one of theirs) will be the
hub" at the centre of a growing number of consumer devices.
There was even
winter coat, aimed at skiers, using the company's iPod music player.
less flashy, is the company's increased credibility as the maker of
The Mac has
long been the
computer of choice of graphics and publishing professionals and has
popular with scientists, in schools and universities and in the home
But it hasn't
presence with either small business or large corporations. The original
Mac lacked expandability and features that made it seem user-friendly
home users were just too cute to appeal to corporate IT departments.
OS X changed a
lot of minds
about Macs. While offering a slick, colourful front end,
Apple's new generation operating system is built on top of industrial
Unix, the same reliable system that powers most network servers.
Unix users can pop up a terminal window and have access to the arcane
powerful command line that lets them work their magic. Macs can now run
a wide range of powerful Unix programs, while offering Microsoft
Quickbooks and other tools for everyday business use.
At the same
new Xserve rack-mount network server has been gathering good
for that hidden-away network closet.
TV ads, well
designed products, useful bundled software and new-found credibility
the IT department are all aiming to convince home and business users
it is possible to switch from Windows to Mac. A few barriers remain,
Generic PCs cost less than stylish, fully equipped Macs, though when
compare a Mac and PC with equivalent features, the price-differential
to vanish. And while current Macs are powerful, they haven't been
pace with the speed enhancements in Intel-styled PC processors.
Jobs no longer demos Macs outpacing high-end PCs.
are considering making the switch. Next week,
some tools to help.