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Talkin' Smack: Wait for It....

Whatever Apple's got cooking for the pro market, Jobs isn't talking yet By Dave Nagel
So did you hear the big news? Me neither. As far as I could tell, just about everything Steve Jobs talked about at this morning's keynote address at Macworld started with a lowercase "i"--from the new iMac and iPod to iTunes 3, iSync and iCal--and that's bad news for professional users. But I'm not going to come down hard on Apple this time around. Why?

Well, after I went on a rant about this very same topic just six months ago, Apple turned around and released the dual 1 GHz G4. And then I realized what should have been obvious: If a new G4 isn't ready to ship at in time for a keynote address, Steve Jobs just isn't going to talk about it. Otherwise, Apple would surely lose out on sales of existing models for during the waiting period. And right now, no technology company can afford to miss out on any sales whatsoever.

So, in short, I'm not going to berate Apple one little bit until I see what happens in the next couple of months. Instead, I'm going to talk about the quasi-decent stuff announced today.

First and foremost in my mind is Mac OS X 10.2, code-named "Jaguar." Jobs announced that the new OS will be shipping early and should be in stores by Aug. 24 for $129. According to Jobs, the new software includes 150 "major" new features, though how may of these can truly be viewed as "major" remains to be seen.

Jobs didn't reveal everything about Jaguar, but he did talk about the new multithreaded Finder--a much-anticipated feature for anybody who prefers speed over slowness. It will also include another highly requested feature: spring-loaded folders, a feature that has been available for quite some time in the previous-generation Mac OS.

But what Jobs didn't mention was what Jaguar will mean for professional applications, particularly hardware. As you probably know, some hardware manufacturers have had quite a difficult time retooling their products for OS X, particularly in the area of video editing and capture boards. I'm not going to mention any vendors by name, but several have told me that Jaguar will solve many of these issues, including problems with real-time boards. So look for important new developments in this area by the end of August.

After Jaguar, few other announcements seemed particularly noteworthy. Jobs did spill the beans on the new version of Maya for Mac OS X, which we'll be discussing in a separate article. And he announced the new iMac and iPod, as well as reductions on the prices of existing iPods and the "high-end" iMac.

The new iMac, as you've probably already seen, includes a 17-inch widescreen display powered by an Nvidia GeForce4 MX graphics card. It supports a pretty impressive resolution of 1,440 x 900 pixels and will sell for $1,999 when it ships next month. While the iMac falls definitively on the consumer side of the business, the display itself does not. Apple sells a 17-inch flat-panel display separately for $999. Coupled with an 800 MHz G4 machine with Nvidia graphics, an 80 GB AA drive and a Pioneer SuperDrive, the new iMac just about crosses over into the professional market. If Apple could see its way to bumping up the bus speed a tad, I think pro users would have a fine alternative to a home or second desktop computer in the high-end iMac.

As for the iMac formerly known as the high-end model, it sees a slight price reduction to $1,799, including a Pioneer SuperDrive, 800 MHz G4, Nvidia GeForce2 graphics, a 15-inch display and a 60 GB hard drive.

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