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AUGUST 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 8



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DAN SULLIVAN is a contibuting writer for Renaissance Online Magazine.


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NOTE: The Bytes & Picas section now features news and reviews of the gadget culture, including video games, technology, the internet and marketing strategies.

iBook? iDunno...

On July 21st Steve Jobs introduced the iBook - the iMac to go - to the New York City MacWorld during his keynote address. Hundreds of Macintosh fanatics cheered the multi-colored portable computer like 14-year-old girls at a Backstreet Boys concert.

The iBook has two built-in antennas, when coupled with a $99 internal network card and a $299 wireless AirPort hub allows owners to surf the web, without wires, at an Ethernet-rivaling 11Mbps. This is the creamy filling of the iBook Oreo. Wireless, fast Internet in cool Mac packaging is the ideal for twenty-something consumers, or their fiscally-endowed parents.

Apple is charging $1599 for this little wonder and calling it a consumer portable. Granted, their lowest-priced PowerBook goes for $2499, so $1599 is a cheap portable, in comparison. This article was typed on a PowerBook 145B, appraised at $123 including the battery and AC adapter, through United Computer Exchange (www.uce.com). That's a cheap portable computer.

Recent online columnists from MacWeek and CNet have bashed the iBook as being "too girly" and "resembling a makeup case". They have a point. Steer your browser to www.apple.com and judge for yourself. It's weird looking.

But so was the iMac. I was one of the first people criticizing Apple for the blue and white computer casings. I figured the 4% of the overall computer marketshare Apple had would disappear. Time Magazine reports they are now up to 12%.

Then Apple outsold Dell, Compaq, HP, eMachines, and every other individual PC maker with the $1199 iMac last Christmas. Apple proved themselves invincible, for once in the 1990's. This trend to outsell other PC models has continued as recently as June 1999 in spite of $499 eMachine desktops.

Portable iMacs are a Generation-X magnet, especially for the college bound. Macs are still prevalent in a number of colleges and universities. iBooks will sell well in those markets.

Will the masses embrace iBook? Not the way they did for iMac. The Mac operating system is still a very separate platform from the majority of computer users. First-time computer buyers - the majority of iMac purchasers - will most likely defer to an $1199 desktop with a faster processor and a 15" monitor than a $1599 portable with a 12.1" screen.

When comparison shopping against the iBook, a quick perusal of Internet vendors finds the AMS Tech 21CTD notebook computer for $1662 at Outpost.com with twice the hard drive, DVD instead of CD, floppy drive (the iBook is floppy-less), and running Windows 98.

But it is an AMS Tech notebook. Ask for positive references on this manufacturer on Deja.com, and you'll learn AMS should be renamed ASS. Apple hardware is always superior, and trend setting. Apple perfected the trackball and trackpad pointing devices. They set the standard for portable computing. Despite being worth $123, my seven-year old 145B runs like a champ. (A slow champ, with Internet surfing horribly painful through the 9,600 BPS modem.)

iBook's wireless functionality is the key to its success. Next month Apple will be shipping both the iBook and AirPort.

iBook? iMight, but I'll need $1477 after I sell the 145B.

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