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Apple hopes new consumer Macs boost sagging sales

[Photo: Apple Computer]
Flower Power iMac

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 26, 2001

TOKYO -- Apple Computer Inc., looking to revitalize sales after posting a net loss of more than $245-million in the previous quarter, introduced Thursday juiced-up new models of its iMac and Power Mac G4 Cube desktops.

The brightly colored new products, shown at the MacWorld Expo in Tokyo, come equipped ready to read and write compact discs and feature Apple's latest music software, iTunes, which allows users to record MP3-format songs onto CDs.

All three new iMac models, ranging in price from $899 to $1,499, feature iTunes. The two higher-end iMac models -- the 500-megahertz and 600-megahertz versions -- will include the CD-RW drives and come in two new color patterns called Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian. Apple's designers spent 18 months working on the new colors.

The new Power Mac G4 Cube also comes pre-installed with a rewritable CD drive and iTunes software and sells for $1,599. A $1,299 Cube comes with a DVD-ROM, instead of CD-RW, drive. The new products, available immediately, complement what the Cupertino, Calif., computermaker says is an evolving digital lifestyle centered on the desktop computer serving as "digital hubs" for devices such as camcorders and electronic organizers, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said.

Analysts weren't persuaded because the company faces rivals such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Sony Corp., the world's No. 1 and 2 electronicsmakers, which also based their strategies on linking digital devices for consumers.

"Apple has no other choice," said Katsushi Shiga, senior analyst at Gartner Group Japan K.K., a market research company. "It looks like Apple's core competence in developing originality and easy-to-use software is fading."

The updated lineup is part of the struggling company's plan to return to profitability in the current quarter. Apple lost market share to competitors last year, partly because it had not included drives that read and write CDs in its computers. Apple posted a net loss of $247-million, or 73 cents a share, in the first fiscal quarter ending Dec. 30 -- the first loss since Jobs returned to the company in 1997.

- Compiled from reports by the Associated Press and Bloomberg News.

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