Ap­ple up­grades may win over PC buy­ers, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - Jen­nifer Dud­leyNi­chol­son at­tended the World­wide De­vel­op­ers Con­fer­ence as a guest of Ap­ple.

Pro by name and na­ture

AP­PLE’S new re­cruit­ment drive for Mac is sim­ple.

It wants to lure PC users away from the prom­ise of a Win­dows 8 fu­ture with lower prices, speedy new chips, more mem­ory and a new flag­ship lap­top with the good looks of an iPad, the slen­der body of a MacBook Air and the power of a pro­fes­sional com­puter.

The tech­nol­ogy gi­ant will even throw an op­er­at­ing sys­tem up­grade into the deal for $ 20.99.

Ap­ple’s re­cruit­ment drive launched last month at its World­wide De­vel­op­ers Con­fer­ence in San Fran­cisco and trick­led down to Aus­tralia, where the Ap­ple Store started tak­ing or­ders for the ‘‘ new gen­er­a­tion’’ MacBook Pro.

Keen pun­dits were dis­ap­pointed about a two to three- week wait for the com­puter.

But an­a­lysts say Ap­ple could be on to a win­ner with the new model and the com­pany’s im­por­tant hard­ware up­grades to other com­puter lines.

Ap­ple world­wide mar­ket­ing se­nior vicepres­i­dent Phil Schiller an­nounced the com­put­ing over­haul late last month, telling a sold- out au­di­ence the new lap­top line- up was ‘‘ by far the best in the in­dus­try’’.

Grab­bing head­lines is the MacBook Pro with retina dis­play; a new model in the MacBook Pro range that adds more than just ex­tra pix­els.

While its new 15.4- inch retina screen has a res­o­lu­tion greater than full high- def­i­ni­tion, Ap­ple’s new ma­chine is more fo­cused on porta­bil­ity and power.

It is a quar­ter thin­ner than the last MacBook Pro, at just 1.8cm; more than half a kilo­gram lighter; and its hard­ware in­cludes a third- gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i7 chip and flash stor­age for more speed, with a sub­stan­tial 768GB drive pos­si­ble at high­est con­fig­u­ra­tion. The top- of- the- line model ranges in price from $ 2499 to $ 4299, de­pend­ing on what you add.

Gart­ner re­search vice- pres­i­dent Van Baker says the high price of the new MacBook will mean it won’t ap­peal to all ‘‘ av­er­age con­sumers’’, but it will find an ea­ger au­di­ence from ‘‘ pho­tog­ra­phers, videog­ra­phers and any­one in­volved with edit­ing im­ages on a large scale’’.

Baker says Ap­ple’s ap­proach shows the com­pany’s com­mit­ment to ‘‘ in­no­va­tion’’ while other com­puter mak­ers are fo­cused on cut­ting prices to ap­peal to a wider au­di­ence.

‘‘ Ap­ple re­ally threw down the gaunt­let in terms of a high- per­for­mance note­book,’’ he says.

‘‘ The ex­am­ple they showed us is that you can have four HD video streams run­ning inside Fi­nal Cut Pro at once.

‘‘ They are in­no­vat­ing and they’re do­ing it at a time when most oth­ers are try­ing to dive for that $ 699 price point.’’

How­ever, Ap­ple did ditch some com­mon lap­top fea­tures to achieve the new MacBook Pro’s 1.8cm form.

Both a DVD drive and a wired in­ter­net con­nec­tion are miss­ing from Ap­ple’s new flag­ship lap­top, with both fea­tures of­fered by ac­ces­sories that cost ex­tra.

Apart from the new addition to its lap­top line, Ap­ple kept its up­grades mod­est, adding new, faster In­tel chips and more RAM to MacBook Air and Pro com­put­ers, and in­tro­duc­ing price cuts up to $ 110 for Aus­tralian buy­ers.

It also qui­etly ex­cluded the 17- inch MacBook Pro from its line and failed to up­grade its pop­u­lar iMac range of large- screen desk­top com­put­ers.

Ap­ple’s up­grade comes at an im­por­tant time for the com­put­ing in­dus­try, with sales growth fal­ter­ing and many con­sumers hold­ing out for Mi­crosoft’s Win­dows 8 launch later this year.

PC sales grew just 2.9 per cent in the first three months of 2012.

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