Apple Computer charts new course

Visitors to Apple Computer's Web site on Monday morning were greeted by a cryptic message feature three images: a cookie, a shopping cart, and a screwdriver. The message read: "Think different. Really different. Come back Monday at noon (PST) and find out just how different we mean."

At noon Monday, Apple revealed its plans with a freshly-designed Web site. The cookie represented a new chip, according to the new Web site. The shopping cart represented a new online store, and the screwdriver represented customer's new ability to specify and design the exact Macintosh they'd like.

Also at noon, interim CEO Steve Jobs lead a press conference, outlining the plans and introducing a leaner, faster Apple Computer.

"We are fundamentally changing the way we're doing business," Jobs said.

The new chip is the PowerPC 750, formerly known under its code-named "G3." The PPC 750 is significantly faster than previous Macintosh CPUs, but the G3 systems Apple is offering are extremely low priced for Macs: G3 Macs are comparable to 300 MHz Pentium IIs and will run only $500-600 more expensive than comparable PCs. New G3-based Macs will run at 233 or 266 MHz, and feature 512K L2 cache, a 66 MHz bus, 32 MB of SDRAM, 2 MB of video RAM, and 4-6 GB hard drives. They will be priced at $2000-3000, though this cost doesn't include a monitor or keyboard.

Apple also introduced a G3-based PowerBook that is slightly faster than a typical Pentium 233 laptop. Apple is now claiming to have the world's fastest portable once again with the PowerBook G3.

"These products basically scream with power," Jobs said. The G3 will eventually appear in 275 MHz and 300 MHz versions.

Apple's new online store, "the Apple Store," is a Web Objects-based online store that allows customers to buy Macintosh computers online. Ironically, the Apple Web site mentions that the Apple Store uses the same technology NeXT Software used in 1996 to "build Dell Computer's own online store": Dell has stopped using Web Objects in favor of Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP) technology.

With the Apple Store, Apple will begin selling custom-made Macintosh systems directly to customers for the first time. Jobs compared the system to Dell's online store and gave notice to Michael Dell.

"With our new products and our new store, we're coming to get you, buddy," Jobs said.

Sounds like the same old Apple to me

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