Steve Jobs’ major announcement at MacWorld yesterday was that the Mac and the iPod are getting smaller and cheaper with the release of the Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle.
During a keynote address to the rapt audience of Apple fans, Jobs unveiled the Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle, along with several enhancements to the forthcoming "Tiger" version of Mac OS X.
Both the Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle are designed to attract mainstream users who may be familiar with Apple's other products, but are unwilling to spend the money on the full-featured versions, Jobs said.
Apple will release two versions of the Mac Mini on January 22. The least expensive model will cost £288.51 plus VAT with a 1.25GHz G4 processor, 256MB of 333MHz DDR SDRAM, a 40GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical drive and a Radeon 9200 graphics processor.
The other model costs £339.57 plus VAT with a 1.42GHz processor and an 80GB hard drive.
Most users will put music on the iPod Shuffle, but it can also be used as a portable USB device, Jobs said. The bottom of the iPod Shuffle snaps off to reveal a USB attachment which can plug directly into a PC or a Macintosh, he said.
Coming off a fourth quarter in which the company sold 4.5 million iPods, Apple now holds 65 per cent of the market for digital music players, Jobs said. The remaining chunk of that market is held by a variety of flash-based players that will now compete with the iPod Shuffle.
Keynote attendees greeted the Mac Mini and iPod Shuffle with sustained applause and cheers, as they did just about every new feature or product shown during Jobs' two-hour presentation.
Most attendees had already gotten news of the new products through leaks posted on various Apple enthusiast Web sites over the past month, which prompted a lawsuit from Apple.
But that couldn't put a damper on the enthusiasm of the attendees at the San Francisco show. While awaiting Jobs' arrival, conference goers danced on chairs to music played over the sound system by Apple-friendly artists such as U2 and the Black-Eyed Peas. Audience members whooped and whistled at some of the new features in the Tiger operating system, which is expected to ship in the first half of this year.
The Dashboard feature was probably the best-received addition to Mac OS X. Dashboard integrates a number of helpful applications that Jobs called "widgets" into the bottom of a Mac's screen, such as a weather report window, a currency converter, a dictionary and countless others.
Apple also released a new office productivity suite called iWork. IWork costs £42 plus VAT and features a new version of Keynote, Apple's presentation software, and Pages, a new word-processing application designed as an update to the venerable Appleworks.
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