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Apple Down Under

[Dale submitted this a while back, and with our overload of articles, I’ve only just gotten to it. Nevertheless, his information is still timely, and I’ve added comments where I couldn’t resist. -Adam]

This past August, Apple Computer held its fourth Australian Apple User Group Convention. Ian Cooper from Apple Computer (Australia) described, in general terms, Apple’s future plans. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Apple is working on cutting down product development to six months. [And they seem to be achieving this. The only problem is that it makes technical and sales support more complex, and can confuse the consumer. Where is the happy medium?]
  • There will be a major push with notebook computers. Apple currently holds second place after Toshiba in the notebook market. That’s pretty good considering that Apple has only been in the market for nine months. [I believe that since Dale wrote this, Apple has taken first place in the notebook market – a testament to the tremendous job Apple did in designing the PowerBook line after the much-maligned Mac Portable.]
  • Apple will reduce the price of the Quadra and introduce the PowerPC. The PowerPC will run Macintosh, MS-DOS, Windows, and OS/2 software. [They keep saying that, but frankly, I’m not holding my breath until I see the PowerPC doing just that as well as current Macs and PCs do.]
  • Apple’s entry level Macintosh will be a Classic/LC style machine with a 68030 microprocessor and internal 256 color video. [Shades of the rumored LC III that will provide IIci-class power at the price of the current LC II. But will Apple ship it with a "III" in the name?]
  • Other products or features on the drawing board include more flexible expansion, faster 68030s by improving software and hardware, further support for Apple II emulation, improved SCSI and NuBus, complementing 68040 computers with a DSP chip, integrated RGB and NTSC video & stereo sound. [Rumors I’ve heard place the Quadra 800, due along with the LC III this February, as the first machine that might ship with onboard DSP (Digital Signal Processing) support, which is essential for voice recognition and synthesis technology. Speaking of that, a friend reported hearing a machine running the new Macintalk and said he had to hack the code to assure himself that it wasn’t digitized sound.]
  • The customers want a Quadra in a notebook. Apple is working on continued miniaturization, grey-scale displays, RGB displays, new battery technologies, and a desktop alternative design for the PowerBooks. [If Apple puts a 68040 in a Duo, is it all that different from our 1991 April Fools Macintosh TX, a 68040 tower unit with a snap-off notebook? Of course the TX also operated as an AppleShare server using technology from Outbound when the notebook wasn’t docked, but on the other hand, our imaginary notebook weighed 7.2 pounds, a then-unheard-of lightness. Reality is often stranger than fiction.]
  • The System Software will be improved to make it easier to use. Other features planned for System Software include enriched applications software, application integration, enhanced navigation, improved help, MS-DOS and Windows file exchange, PlainTalk speech extension (planned for 1994) and world ready software. [Here’s a simple ease-of-use improvement. When you expand an folder outline in the Finder, the Macintosh does not scroll the window to display the expanded outline, so you have to do the scrolling yourself. Basics!]

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