NEW YORK—Apple‘s latest advertising campaign features of Mac converts sharing their scorn and reasons for getting rid of their PCs.

Steve Jobs says there should be more of these stories on the way soon thanks in part to an upgrade

to its OS X operating system. Version 10.2, a.k.a. Jaguar, hits the streets Aug. 24.

“”We’ve gone from half a million users one year ago to over two and a half million users today. We think over the next two quarters, we’ll have over five million users by the end of this year,”” Apple’s CEO announced at his Macworld Conference and Expo keynote in New York City on Wednesday.

“”Jaguar is light years ahead of Windows XP. There’s never been a better time to switch to Mac.””

Some of the 10.2 improvements include a new mail application designed to eliminate junk mail, iChat AIM-compatible instant messenger, a system-wide address book, Inkwell (a hand writing recognition tool), QuickTime 6 with MPEG-4, an enhanced Finder, Sherlock 3 with Internet services and a new feature called Rendezvous. It allows users to create an instant IP-based network of computers and devices without any configuration. Agreements with HP, Epson, and Lexmark have been solidified to ensure adoption of the software in those companies’ respective network printers for automatic discovery and configuration.

“”Rendezvous will really change things, it’s a prime example of how open standards can drive innovation,”” he added. “”It will automatically discover other devices over any IP network with zero configuration required, and that includes 802.11 and Ethernet.

Jobs also introduced .Mac, Apple’s solution to the soon-to-be obsolete iTools. Jobs said iTools would cease to exist effective Sept. 30. The new suite of Internet services and software features e-mail with IMAP, POP, or Web-based access, 100MB of Internet storage integrated with OS X Finder, and always-on hosting for homepages and digital photo albums.

“”Most work on Internet services is B2B (business-to-business) related, some real highfalutin stuff. But we thought, What about the rest of us?”” he said. “”The world is changing. We used to get free stuff like Yahoo!, HotMail, and iDrive. We have to reflect that too.””

Thus, .Mac offers, by subscription, iCal software (the ability to share calendars online), McAfee’s Virex anti-virus software, Backup (Apple’s solution for backing up data to CDs, DVDs and Apple’s iDisk Internet servers), and — an e-mail service that includes 15MB of IMAP/POP mail storage. “”We’re making Internet services a seamless extension of your computer,”” he said.

.Mac also includes iDisk, 100MB of Internet storage, HomePage (a personal Web site creation tool), and MacSlides — a service that allows users to transform a set of photos into rotating screen savers, accessible by other Jaguar users.

Available immediately for US$99.95 per year, Jobs explained that existing iTools users would be given a free trial of the system until Sept. 30. If existing iTools users sign up prior to Sept. 30, they’ll be ushered in at the introductory price of US$49.95.

“”The response to the campaign has been off the charts,”” he said. “”We’re seeing the impacts of it at our retail stores.””

Apple will open it’s 32nd store in New York City’s trendy SoHo district (aptly dubbed Apple SoHo) on July 18.

On the hardware side, a 17-inch LCD iMac and three iPods garnered most of the attention.

The iMac comes with an 800 MHz PowerPC G4 processor with Velocity Engine, a DVD-R/CD-RW SuperDrive optical drive, an 80GB Ultra ATA hard drive and Apple Pro speakers. Available come August, it will retail for US$1,999. The company announced the three 15-inch flat screen models would be lowered in price.

Jobs said three next generation iPods (5GB, 10GB, and 20GB models) are now available to both Mac and Windows users. They will retail for US$299, US$399, US$499 respectively. All models include an earbud, a power adapter, FireWire cable, case and belt clip. Plus, the new iPods feature software called Smart Playlists that allows for updated playlists based on simple rules set by the user.

“”We’ve made the iPod thinner by 10 per cent and we’ve gone solid state with a glass scroll wheel,”” he said. “”There’s no moving parts on the 10GB and 20GB models.””


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