Macworld Tokyo: iMac Price Increase, Bluetooth for OS X, Cinema HD Display, 10GB iPod

by Alan Sheckter, Videomaker news editor

At Macworld Tokyo this week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote speech included four significant announcements. Three can be categorized as technological advancements, while one, higher iMac prices, was blamed on higher costs.

Due to what the company called significant increases in component costs for memory and LCD flat-panel displays, Apple ratcheted up all iMac prices by $100. Effective immediately, the new suggested retail price for all three models will be $1,399 for the 700 MHz G4 with CD-RW drive; $1,599 for the 700 MHz G4 with Combo drive; and $1,899 for the 800 MHz G4 with SuperDrive. The price increases only affect iMacs, for now.

In an interview, Greg Joswiak, director of product hardware marketing, said the price increase is affecting all desktop computer makers, but many manufacturers are de-configuring their computers rather than raising prices.

We have seen memory costs triple, and flat-panel prices have increases by 25 percent, Joswiak said. We chose to keep our configurations the same. (Others) create new configurations that obscure what’s going on.

Joswiak sited examples of competitors, including Hewlett-Packard, Compaq and Gateway, who no longer offer what they did as recently as two months ago. He said in January, for $800, HP offered the Pavilion 520n, which featured 512MB of memory and a 60GB hard drive. In February, he said HP’s 540n cost $850, and came with only 256MB of RAM and a 40GB hard drive.

Jobs, in his keynote, also said Apple has stepped up iMac production to meet higher-than-expected demand. iMacs had a strong demand, more than any other, Joswiak said. We’d love to be more caught up, but now we’re in ramp volume, and we can make about 5,000 a day.

Apple also previewed its Bluetooth technology for Mac OS X, in Tokyo, which is designed to enable short-range wireless connectivity between a Mac and a variety of digital devices. Bluetooth is an emerging wireless computer and peripheral technology that allows data transmission at up to 1 Mbps within a range of about 30 feet. Apple’s Bluetooth technology for Mac OS X, the company said, lets customers wirelessly share files between Macs; synchronize and share information with Palm-OS based PDAs, including models from Sony and Palm; and access the Internet through Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, including models from Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola. Apple is offering a preview version of its Bluetooth software for Mac OS X as a free software download and is offering a Bluetooth USB adapter, which can Bluetooth-enable any USB-based Macintosh computer, for $49.

In addition, Apple also unveiled the Apple Cinema HD Display, an all-digital, 23-inch flat panel display with 1920×1200-pixel resolution — high enough to view high definition television (HDTV) content. The new Cinema HD Display, Apple said, enables users of Apple Final Cut Pro video editing software to author HDTV content in its native resolution.
The new Apple Cinema HD Display comes with a suggested retail price of $3,499. The Cinema HD Display requires a Power Mac G4 with ADC connector.

Joswiak said the monitor, which will only work with Mac machines, is not meant to be an HDTV monitor and play back HDTV. It was designed specifically for high-resolution HDTV content authoring

And finally, if 1,000 songs in your pocket wasn’t enough, Jobs announced the new 10GB iPod digital music player, which is touted to hold 2,000 songs. It is priced at $499, while the original 5GB iPod remains prices at $399.

Why didn’t Apple just start with a 10GB model when it was originally released four months ago? It was not available at that time, Joswiak said, that option didn’t exist back then. In the six weeks following its release, Joswiak said, the company sold 125,000 of the 5GB iPods.

The iPod’s built-in FireWire port allows you to download an entire 2,000-song library onto the 6.5-ounce device in less than 20 minutes. And the device’s new software gives users a sound equalization control and also lets them store and view their address book, like a PDA. And Apple is proud of iPod’s $49 engraving option, whereby you can personalize your unit with two lines of text.

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