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Talkin' Smack: Back in Business

Apple's bad tidings for the new year could bode well for Mac users

by David Nagel
Executive Producer
[email protected]

Like all Mac psychofanatics, I work hard; I play hard; and I wear my mutton chops old school style. I also take bad news from Apple as a matter of course. So when Steve Jobs held a conference call last week to tell investment analysts about Apple's expected $225 million to $250 million loss for the quarter, I wasn't surprised. After all, the last three years of profits and market share growth have been, if anything, the least typical in Apple's 25-year history. We're used to Apple losing money and squandering market share. It's certainly nice to be back in that comfort zone to which we've all become accustomed.

Actually, the bad news for Apple's bottom line could spell good news for users as the company's forced to release better products to attract new users (and sales). At last week's analyst conference call, Jobs promised OS X in early 2001 and faster G4s in the next few months. He also said Apple will start shipping machines with internal CD-RWs. He even admitted that Apple has, to this point, completely "missed the boat" on CD-RW technology. No argument here. I thought skipping CD-RWs and going straight to DVD-RAM drives was a great idea too, until I realized you can't actually do anything with DVD-RAMs. Then I thought, "Hey, Apple's buying Astarte (back in April), maybe they'll finally be able to make DVD-RAMs useful." No such luck.

Anyhoo, Jobs also offered some tantalizing hints that January's Macworld expo in San Francisco would yield some exiting new products. Of course, Jobs being Jobs, he declined to offer any substantiation to the claim. No doubt we'll see some ground effects added to iMacs (and maybe even some anodized speakers). But is Apple yet prepared to answer the demands of the pro creative community with expandable desktops and G4 PowerBooks? Only Jobs knows, and he's not talking.

But since we creatives seem to be holding Apple's immediate future in our wallets, here's a little advice for Mssr. Jobs to take to his industrial designers prior to the big show.

1. More PCI slots. Want to know how to fit them in? Discard the illusion that anyone's going to spend that much money on AirPort. Make it a PCI option, and use that space for another slot. You can also remove that 56 K modem garbage to fit another one in.

2. A serious mouse. Optical's good, but one button is not.

3. A G4 PowerBook. People are waiting to buy their PowerBooks until these bad boys come out. Bring them out fast!

4. USB 2.0. I don't know whether it's any more stable than the current spec, but it would almost have to be. If not USB 2.0—and I do understand the competitive problems with FireWire—then at least a major revision of what we have now.

5. QuickTime 5 final release. How much longer must I wait for my review unit of the Matrox RT Mac? I want my realtime now!

6. More video card choices. And how about a dual-monitor option? That would save Apple from having to put in yet another PCI slot for those who need two monitors but can't afford to sacrifice a slot.

7. OS X final release. We've been waiting for our so-called modern OS since rumors about Rhapsody began. Enough delays!

Do you have anything to add to this list? Post it in the Creative Mac forum. And be sure to see and hear Dave in glorious QuickTime this week on DMN TV!

Dave Nagel is the producer of Creative Mac and Digital Media Designer; host of the Creative Mac, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LiveMotion and Synthetik Studio Artist WWUGs; and executive producer of Creative Mac, Digital Media Designer, Digital Pro Sound, Digital Webcast, Plug-in Central, Presentation Master, and Video Systems sites. All are part of the Digital Media Net family of online industry hubs.

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