SAN FRANCISCO-Apple CEO Steve Jobs kicked off Macworld Expo at the Moscone Center here with a series of major new product introductions, including an ultrathin MacBook, a new wireless router and backup device, and a new movie rental services.
Jobs described the MacBook Air notebook as the world’s thinnest notebook, with its thickness ranging from 0.76 inch to 0.16 inch at its thinnest part. This makes the MacBook Air thinner than Sony’s most compact notebook model, Jobs said.
It has an aluminum case with an exterior that resembles the iPhone. But it has a full-size backlit keyboard and a full-size 13.3-inch, widescreen LED backlit display and a large trackpad with multitouch gestures like the iPhone.
The MacBook Air will cost $1,799 for a 1.6 GHz processor with 2GB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. Apple is also offering a 64GB solid-state hard drive.
As part of the design effort for the MacBook Air, Apple worked with Intel to redesign the Core 2 Duo processor into a 60 percent smaller package. It’s not clear whether this design is exclusive to Apple or will be offered to other notebook manufacturers.
However, there is no optical drive built into the notebook. An external USB 2.0 optical drive is available for $99.
The Remote Disc feature will enable remote installation of software off any Mac or PC on a wireless network using Apple’s data transfer software.
5 Million Copies of Leopard Sold
Jobs also told his Moscone Center audience that Apple sold more than 5 million copies of “Leopard,” meaning that more than 10 percent of the installed base has already upgraded to the operating system, a pace he called “unprecedented” for a new version of Mac OS X.
He also announced Time Capsule, a wireless backup system and LAN router with a hard drive that can back up every Mac in a home or office. A 500GB version is $299. A 1TB version is $499. Both editions will ship in February.
Jan. 15 was the 200th day since the release of the iPhone. During that time, Apple has sold more than 4 million units. Now Apple is releasing “great new features” starting Jan. 15. These include the ability to send SMS messages to multiple people at once, a location mapping application, video streams that let the viewer select chapters, and the ability to display lyrics of the songs you are playing.
The mapping feature allows iPhone users to find routes based on their current location using triangulation data from Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers. Users will also be able to customize up to nine iPhone home screens. This is all part of a free update available Jan. 15.
The iPod Touch gets the same features, along with mail, maps, stock quotes and weather, in an update that costs $20. These features will be built into new iPod Touches.
Jobs reported that, to date, iTunes has sold 1 billion songs, 125 million TV shows and 7 million movies.
He also introduced a long-rumored movie rental program. “Every major studio” has agreed to participate in the rental program, Jobs said, including Sony Pictures, which was somewhat of a surprise, and Disney, which is no surprise at all.
More than 1,000 movies will be available for rental by the end of February that users can watch instantly over broadband, Jobs said.
Renters have 30 days to watch a movie and 24 hours to finish once they start. They also have the option of transferring the movie in the middle of the program to another device. This service is available in the United States as of Jan. 15 and will be released to the international market later this year.
In addition, Jobs also raised the curtain on Apple TV “take two.” This service will let people rent DVDs and for $1 more HDVDs directly from the TV with no computer required. Consumers will also be able to buy TV shows and music via their TV, which can be synched to iTunes if they are connected to a computer. Apple is offering this as a free software update to every current Apple TV customer. The company has also reduced the price of Apple TV to $229.