Apple Australia expects to start selling its iMac entry-level PC on September 5, and has forged a number of important partnerships to help boost sales.
The machine uses the Intel-developed Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard for connecting to peripherals and other devices, replacing the Apple Desktop Bus (ADB), RS-422 and SCSI standards on previous Mac models. This move will enable Mac users to use many of the same standard, low-cost peripherals available to Windows users, removing one important barrier to Mac ownership.
The problem for Apple is that not many USB devices are currently available, and many of its existing customers have invested in peripherals which will be useless with the iMac.
In response, Apple has announced that a number of vendors have committed to delivering USB versions of their products, and several have designed products specifically to complement the iMac.
Most prominent at the launch in Sydney was Hewlett-Packard, which has announced a USB connection kit for its range of DeskJet printers. The kit consists of a USB-to-parallel cable and software drivers on CD-ROM. HP will sell the kit on its own for $150 Or bundled with DeskJet 670 and 690 printers for $399 and $499 respectively. HP says it will have USB-equipped printers "before the end of the year".
Imation has announced an iMac version of its SuperDrive high-capacity storage solution, which is capable of reading and writing standard floppy disks as well as 120MB SuperDrive cartridges. Imation's drive is moulded and coloured to match the iMac's unusual design, and will answer a principal criticism of the machine, which does not come equipped with a floppy disk drive.
Other vendors announcing USB support include: Iomega (which announced a translucent Zip drive to complement the iMac), SyQuest, Epson, Kodak and Microsoft (with its range of USB joysticks).