Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive officer, has delivered a keynote speech to the MacWorld Tokyo exhibition that managed to live up to the expectations of both Japan's loyal Mac users and the rumours that had been circulating online recently among the worldwide Mac community.
Headlining his presentation was a range of upgrades for the company's G4 Cube and iMac desktop personal computers.
The new Power Mac G4 Cube, which is the first new model in the range to be announced since the machine debuted at MacWorld in New York in July last year, has 128MB of memory, a 20GB hard disk, a rewritable CD (CD-RW) drive and is available now in Australia for $3395.
In addition to the new Cube, Jobs unveiled three new versions of the iMac computer which are also available immediately. Available in Power PC G3 400MHz, 500MHz and 600MHz processor versions, the former two machines have 64MB of main memory while the high-end model has 128MB of memory. CD-RW drives are present on the latter two machines and prices for the computers are $1795, $2495 and $3195 respectively.
The company also unveiled two new case colours available on the two higher-end models - Flower Power and Blue Dalmation - which feature coloured patterns within the case mould.
Also of great interest to the audience was the lowering in price of Apple's 22-inch (55cm) LCD monitor. Apple is lowering the Australian price from $8495 to $6295. The company's 15-inch monitors retain their existing prices.
The company also set aside some time to nVidia to give the company's new GeForce 3 graphics processor its first public showing. Apple will begin offering the GeForce 3 chip as an option on its top-of-the range 733MHz PowerMac G4 machine from late March, although local availability is yet to be announced.
Job's keynote comes just over a month before the company's new MacOS X goes on sale worldwide on March 24. Applications written for the new OS are expected to begin arriving in stores from the second quarter, with the majority becoming available in the middle of 2001.
Also unveiled by Jobs during the keynote was an upgraded version of the new iTunes software, a digital music jukebox launched a month ago. The new software, which can be downloaded free from the company's Web site, extends support for the CD-burning function from Apple's CD-RW drive to an additional 25 third-party drives.
Digital music underlined several parts of the keynote and looks set to become a major focus for Apple. Jobs characterised it as one of the main pillars of the digital lifestyle era, which he said was just beginning, and also outlined his vision for the Mac computer to sit at the centre of a digital home entertainment network. That vision is shared by several other companies, most notably Sony, and is likely to become a battleground for personal computer makers in the future.