Good News From the Apple Orchard
By Melvin Ah Ching
It's an exciting time to be a Macintosh user and owner. Things are looking good for Apple this year with a number of new product releases already in the marketplace and several more to come. Shares of Apple stock have recently been spiking into the $20 range after hovering under $14 for several months.
While Apple's market share remains a flat 3 percent of the total personal computer space, analysts have become optimistic with Apple's latest offerings.
Apple's online iTunes music store has proven to be a successful and groundbreaking new innovation. In the two months since its opening, Macintosh users have downloaded more than 5 million songs, many of which are offered as single tracks for 99 cents each. The iTunes music store is the first successful pay as you go music downloading service offered on the Internet.
Currently the service is available only for Macintosh users running OSX and using Apple's iTunes music playing, recording and downloading software.
Analysts are nearly giddy awaiting the day when Apple releases iTunes to the legions of Microsoft Windows users. This will make the service accessible to an audience many times the size of Apple's core customers.
Rounding out the success of iTunes is Apple's iPod digital music player. Introduced in late 2001, the latest generation of the iPod can hold up to 7,500 songs in a package thinner than that of a standard audio cassette. The music players are compatible with both Apple's Macintosh computers and Windows PCs. Things will be really great for Windows iPod owners once iTunes is ported to their platform.
On the Macintosh hardware front, Apple recently unveiled their new Power Macintosh G5 line of computers which are aimed at the professional market. The G5 will be the desktop replacement for the current G4, which in recent months have seen a sharp decline in sales as users in the professional sector have long awaited a Power Mac with a faster processor.
The G5 won't disappoint. Once they go on sale in August, these puppies billed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs "as the fastest computers on Earth" will boast a new IBM 970 Power PC chip running at speeds of up to 2 ghz with a 3 ghz version promised for late next year. Movie making, audio sound recording and image editing will never be as fast on any Mac once the G5 comes to market.
Apple is also putting the finishing touches to their latest operating system update. OS X (Version 10.3) will build upon the rock solid legacy established by the current and earlier versions of Apple's robust and stable OS based a version of BSD Unix. Once the OS is released in the fall, it will among other things feature the capability to allow users to make toll free, long distance, video phone calls through a high speed internet connection as well as enhance many other features already taken for granted in the current version.
Apple continues to open Apple retail stores across the country every month. One such store recently opened in Ala Moana Shopping Center right here in Hawaii. There users and potential Macintosh convertees or "switchers" as Apple likes to call them, can get hands-on demonstrations on all of the Macintosh models currently offered for sale including the popular iBook line of laptop computers, the elegant titanium Powerbook G4s and the entry level eMacs and iMacs. Those little iPods, running demos of OS X and the Apple iTunes Music Store are all available for switchers and users at the Apple stores.
It certainly is a good time to be an Apple user and perhaps even an Apple investor. After months of declining sales and ho-hum products, it now seems that Apple may be on a roll to turn a major corner and become a household name through the mix of music and computing products that they now offer. See you at the Apple Store!
Photo: Apple's iPod Digital Music Player
Mel's Macintosh Universe
Copyright 1998-2003 by Melvin Ah Ching Productions.