SAN FRANCISCO—The enthusiastic reception afforded Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs Macworld Expo surprise keynote announcement of dramatic new PowerBook portables echoed across the show floor at Moscone Center here.
Mac enthusiasts of every stripe voiced their excitement over the engineering of the new 17- and 12-inch professional models, even as some voiced a more cautious note about the new systems sales prospects.
According to Ruben Jeffries-BlaqueSmith, a technical consultant based in Calif., “I personally loved the 12-inch [PowerBook], because its compact and full of power. But as far as sales go, I see the 17-inch [PowerBook] has a lot of use to certain professionals” in creative fields.
Naomi Pearce, principal with Pearce Communications, a public relations firm in Albany, Calif., agreed that content creators will go for the higher-end model.
Pearce said the 17-inch system will woo creative professionals seeking more mobility from systems equipped with industrial-strength throughput and “a screen that wont make you blind by [age] 40.”
Janet Koptic, a graphic designer based in Jamul, Calif., seems to fit this description: The longtime Mac user said she is “definitely” buying the larger model; Koptic said that the large screen size and other features will enhance her work and outweigh the $3,299 price tag for the high-end model.
Similarly, price is little object for Kurt Wyckoff, vice president of sales and marketing with AEC Software of Sterling, Va. Wyckoff said he wants to buy the new notebook models for his staff, even if they run more expensive than many Intel-standard portables. Wyckoffs also considering buying Apples newly announced Keynote presentation package for his sales staff.
“Keynote looks great on a 17-inch monitor,” Wyckoff said.
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Kim Cary, a professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., said the new announcements were “very characteristic of Apple; they arent kidding when they say they do a lot of innovation.” Cary said, however, that he was surprised that Apple had gone with the 802.11g wireless protocol instead of the newer 802.11a, as his university is already evaluating 802.11a technology.
Fred Evans, an independent Apple dealer based in Minneapolis, said he is hopeful that the new portables will be good for business. “Theyve got very good sales prospects,” he said. “Apple may have another runaway bestseller—especially with the 12-inch model.”
Indeed, Evans said his company has ordered twice as many 12-inch PowerBooks as 17-inch ones. While the 17-inch version is “very visually impressive, and I think we will sell a number,” he believes the pricing and portability of the smaller system may win over many potential buyers.
“I think the 17-inch [PowerBook] will get a lot of people to come in and look,” he said, “but theyre going to leave with the 12-inch [PowerBook].”
On other fronts, Evans said he was pleased with the rest of Apples Expo announcements, which included iLife, a new bundle of the companys consumer-level multimedia applications; Final cut Express, a $299, entry-level version of its Final Cut Pro video-editing software; and Keynote, a new presentation package.
“Any time Apple gives us something to sell, we appreciate it,” Evans said.
“We like being able to sell iApp upgrades; thats the thing I bought the most of. As for Final Cut Express, at that price, were going to get a lot of upgraders from iMovie,” Apples consumer video package.
“Keynote is a tougher sell,” he said. “Most of the potential customers already have [Microsoft] PowerPoint; are they going to spend another $100 for a different presentation app?”