January 12, 2005 [LINK]

Apple aims low

Steve Jobs announced a whole slew of new hardware and software products at the MacWorld Convention in San Francisco yesterday. The Mac Mini sells for $499 but has no monitor, mouse, or keyboard. Obviously, Apple is counting on a lot of potential customers with seldom-used PCs for which the peripheral devices are not worn out. Interesting gamble. The iPod Shuffle, the first in the line that is based on flash memory rather than a hard disk, sells for $99 or $149. Both of these budget items represent Apple's first serious attempt to broaden its customer base into the low end of the market. They made tentative such attempts in the mid and late-1990s, but never followed through. This belated marketing shift stands in contrast to the ironic emergence of the Mac as an elitist platform for hard-core computer geeks, publishing houses, and software developers, not the user-friendly "computer for the rest of us" as it was originally billed in the mid-to-late 1980s. As for programs, iWork is the l-o-n-g awaited successor to AppleWorks, but its only components are word processing and presentation. The latter apparently replaces Keynote, Apple's answer to PowerPoint. What about number crunching??? For more, see washingtonpost.com and Apple.