Emulator concerns reduce pre-orders for MacBook Pro

Emulator concerns reduce pre-orders for MacBook Pro

Although Apple is making a big noise about the imminent arrival of its first Intel-based notebook, pre-orders in the channel suggest the MacBook Pro will not hit the sales numbers registered by the PowerBook G4.

As is often the case with major Apple releases, dealers are also concerned about how soon they will see significant deliveries of the new model.

Brisbane-based Apple specialist, KH Distribution, has already received substantial pre-orders from its resellers, according to managing director, Keith Rice. But he said these orders were lower than when Apple launched the PowerBook G4.

"If I had to give you a gut reaction, I'd say pre-orders aren't as strong [as the PowerBook G4]," he said. "We are still very happy with the response, however, given that it's a completely new ballgame.

"We view the move to Intel as an excellent one and can only see good things coming out of it."

Apple product manager at Cellnet, Norman Box, agreed pre-orders were lower than G4 levels.

He said it could be related to popular third-party software, which was yet to be configured for the Intel chipset.

Such applications must run through the Rosetta PowerPC emulator until upgraded for the new environment.

"A lot of third-party providers will be playing catch up with the new Intel architecture and it will cause problems throughout the rest of this year," Box said. "I'm still getting good levels of demand for PowerBooks because of what people are reading on the Net about the MacBook."

Box said customers were wary of the slowdown effect that running applications through an emulator could create.

"Native Apple applications will run fine on the MacBook Pro, but the second you go with existing third-party apps that aren't optimised with the new code you will be experiencing a slow down," he said. "To Apple's credit, it has said it is running Rosetta and software is being progressively updated.

"But we don't know how far behind companies like Macromedia and Adobe are. With the majority of users being graphic professionals, or professional consumers, if they start running existing apps and they are running slower than before, it could create negative sentiment."

Despite these possible teething troubles, Apple Centre Taylor Square director, Ben Morgan, said the MacBook Pro would be the one of the biggest Apple products ever.

He even suggested it could bridge the divide between traditional Mac and PC communities.

"The sales curve we see is massive," Morgan said. "There are Apple diehards who have complained Apple is becoming just another PC company, but they need to wake up and realise that it's not about the cult [of Apple]. It's about getting a product into the mainstream."

MacSense managing director, John Khoo, said he was already receiving many requests about upgrading MacBook memory.

While high demand for the MacBook Pro, and strength of the Apple brand in general, wasn't questioned by Apple dealers, none contacted by ARN had a firm release date for the Intel-based notebook.

"We are being told sometime in February but we are not promising a timeframe to anybody," AppleCentre Central Coast managing director, Jean-Pierre Roux, said. "We won't see any quantity for a couple of months."

Next Byte director, Tim Kleeman, said units he had seen at the Macworld expo in January appeared to be prototypes.

ARN contacted Apple Australia for comment, but had no received a reply by the time of going to press.

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