Apple aims to capitalise on 'renewed market interest'

A broad new portfolio of Macintoshes ranging low-end machines to Apple's first multiprocessor Mac should capitalise on a recent rally in local sales, according to Apple distributor CED.

A broad new portfolio of Macintoshes, ranging from sharply discounted low-end machines to Apple's first multiprocessor Mac, should capitalise on a recent rally in local sales, according to Apple distributor CED.

CED marketing manager Chris Thompson says a mid-year sales slump "which was down to two factors--the substantial number of recalls we were obliged to do, and a general uncertainty about Apple's future, even in traditional Mac strongholds"--has eased.

"And the good news for us is that the sales appear to have stalled rather than gone elsewhere. The low end of the market in particular is going nutso for us at the moment."

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of CED's burgeoning low-end market is the continuing appetite - mainly from the education sector - for 68040-based Macs, including the Performa 580, the global inventory of which will probably see out its life in Australia and New Zealand. The price of the 580 has been cut by 11% to $2495 (including GST) in CED's new catalogue, and the company hopes a 25% cut on the PowerBook 190, to $2375 (and around $2000 for educational purchasers) will excite the same market.

Apple's mid-market offerings centre around its Performa 5400/120 bundle, which bundles a 28.8Kbit/s modem and a Stylewriter 1500 printer for $3995, a cut of $910 on previous pricing. CED will also try to lure "upgraders" and SOHO Mac users to its new Performa 6400, available in 180MHz and 200MHz versions from $4995. A high-specced "Black Mac" Director's Edition 5400 with a 180MHz processor will round out the range.

CED will seek to recapture the initiative at the competitive high end of the market with two new 9500 models--a single-chip 200MHz 604e version and, in what represents a major step for Apple, the 9500/180MP, which ships with two 180MHz 604e processors. Although Radius tried the market with a twin-chip box last year, the MP is Apple's first foray into what seems likely to become a small but important market sector. Apple is also claiming that both machines, which have PCI architecture and six expansion slots are "the most customisable, expandable Macintosh computers in history".

In line with what appears to be new corporate policy at Apple, CED has also forward-announced two products which will not be available until the new year--the 160MHz MessagePad 2000 Newton, which will boast, among others things, built-in audio compression and recording, and the eMate300, Apple's Newton-based play for an even greater stake in the education market.

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