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Apple Breathes New iLife Into New iMacs

By Chris Maxcer MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Aug 7, 2007 2:45 PM PT

Just in time for students going to back to school this fall, Apple has released an sharply updated line of iMacs, iLife '08, iWork '08, and an enhanced .Mac service.

Apple Breathes New iLife Into New iMacs

"This new iMac is the most incredible desktop computer we've ever made," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Our new design features the innovative use of materials, including professional-grade aluminum and glass, that are highly recyclable."

New iMacs

Apple ditched its 17-inch model iMacs, opting to move forward with two bigger screen sizes, 20- and 24-inch widescreen displays. The new iMacs are thinner, aluminum-framed, and sport the latest Intel Core 2 Duo processors running up to 2.8 GHz with 4 MB of shared L2 cache and up to 4 GB of 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM (double data rate two synchronous dynamic random access) memory. The new line also features ATI's next generation of graphics -- the ATI Radeon HD 2600 PRO with 256 MB of GDDR3 (graphics double data rate 3) memory and the ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT with 128 MB of GDDR3 memory.

For music and video pros (or media lovers) the new iMac can be configured with up to a 750 GB hard drive on the 20-inch model -- or up to a whopping 1 TB drive on the 24-inch model.

Elegance in Action

Like most every Apple product, the iMac's new design is strikingly elegant, with a virtually seamless front surface, and all models ship with a new ultra-thin aluminum Apple keyboard that's just a third of an inch thick at its front edge. Apple is also offering a more compact wireless keyboard.

The 20-inch 2.0 GHz iMac starts at US$1,199, the 20-inch 2.4 GHz comes in at $1,499, and the 24-inch 2.4 GHz model retails for $1,799. A 24-inch 2.8 GHz model is offered at $2,299.

Rising Sales

Apple has been making market share gains in terms of PC shipments, particularly in the U.S. The PC market's growth in the second quarter was stronger than expected, and surprisingly, the market is not focused only on replacing systems at the lowest cost, IDC recently reported. System design and customer service are two of the key elements IDC has seen contributing to successful sales.

Apple, of course, is perceived by many consumers to excel in those areas, and the company rarely offers a computer with the lowest cost of acquisition.

"Apple is doing well with a successful transition to Intel processors and growth of sales through retail. The attention surrounding the iPhone and music business is also helping attract business," Loren Loverde, program director for IDC's Worldwide PC and Mobile Phone Trackers, told MacNewsWorld.

"The refreshed iMac should help maintain growth in the near term," she added.

Apple's Momentum

"Apple has strong momentum over the past year, with growth above 30 percent. They also jumped to third place in the U.S. market and sixth worldwide," Loverde said.

In the U.S., Apple currently follows Dell and HP, each of which sells at least four to five times as many PC units than Apple each quarter. Coming in fourth is Gateway, which was previously the No. 3 PC seller in the U.S.

"Despite the strong trends, Apple's share of global shipments was just 3 percent in the second quarter, and the company has less exposure to fast growth rates in emerging markets than some competitors with more distributed global shipments," she noted.

iLife, iWork, and .Mac

Along with its new iMacs, Apple announced iLife '08, which ships free with the new iMacs. Customers using previous versions will have to upgrade at the retail price of $79.

iLife '08 boasts a major new version of iPhoto and a completely reinvented iMovie, both of which integrate seamlessly with a new online .Mac Web Gallery (provided the customer is a .Mac subscriber). iLife also comes with iWeb '08 and GarageBand '08.

"Apple has taken iLife '08 to a new level that is years ahead of anything available for the PC," Jobs said. "We think iLife '08 gives Mac users even more reasons to love their Macs, and PC users even more reasons to switch."

Numbers Now in iWork

Apple's long-rumored spreadsheet application is finally available -- now built into iWork, which contains Apple's Pages word processor and Keynote presentation application. iWork '08 ships for $79.

The new .Mac Web Gallery makes it easy for .Mac subscribers to share photos and movies on the Web, letting visitors download high-quality images for printing as well as the ability to upload their own photos. Plus, Apple bumped the default .Mac storage to 10 GB.

The new .Mac also lets iPhone users snap photos and upload them directly to a .Mac Web Gallery, which can then sync directly with iPhoto '08's Mac-based photo library. A .Mac subscription starts at $99.95 per year.

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