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Hot off the Press - NEWS
by Keith Benicek, Editor

Apple can’t deliver again, and they knew it.
March 4, 2003

Well Mac affectionatos, Apple has done it again by being once again late with a new product after a gala kick off. Where are all the new 17-inch G4 PowerBooks that Stevie Jobs promised for “Mid-February” availability, at the Macworld SF keynote?


Take a good look, it's all you'll see of the new 17in. "Aluminoid"© G4 PowerBook for a while.

While this has become nothing new to us in the media, or to you the Mac buyer over the last few years, what’s worse is that Apple knew all along that it was going to very late. ThinksSecret.com had reported last month that despite continually saying to the media, market analysts and the public that the new 17-inch PowerBook would be available in February, they privately told dealers in a meeting at Macworld SF on January 8th not to expect it to be in the retail channel until mid-March, if not later into April, which just happens to be Apple’s fiscal 3rd quarter.

Is this a coincidence? Considering that Apple’s last two quarters have been stellar losses, it could very well be that their “packing” the 3rd quarter with the 17-in backorders so they’ll “look good” and recovering. It wouldn’t the first time a floundering company has done this to bolster sagging sales and their stock, which has been taking a nose dive even when the NASDAQ has had some recovery periods.

According to Think Secret, we quote: "they (Think Secret) have heard an audio recording of a dealer meeting that took place January 8 in San Francisco in which Apple's Vice President of the Americas and Asia Pacific, John Brandon, specifically told those in attendance, "I realistically wouldn't expect 17" (PowerBook) units in your hands until mid-March at the very earliest." When asked to be more specific on availability, Brandon told one dealer, "When I say mid-March, that's my being (at my) most optimistic. I simply don't think it will happen until much later...if we get as many orders as we expect, the wait could go deep into April, depending on where you are in line."

Think Secret also reported that they had spoken to four analysts, two industry and two stock market, all of which said after checking their notes that Apple told them on the week of January 5th that they specifically remember Apple said the new 17-in PowerBook would ship in February. This is a serious allegation because stock market analysts give stock investors “guidance” based on official statements made by company delivery statements.

I spoke to the Apple department’s senior sales specialist on March 2nd at the Micro Center in Tustin California, one of Apple’s largest chain dealers, and he said they have no idea when they would see any 17-in PowerBooks. While they did have the new 12-in PowerBook on display, he said sales were not that good on it either. 

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The new 12-in. PB is vastly underpowered.

Managers at neither the Newport Beach or Costa Mesa California Apple stores could give any availability date as of Monday March 3rd. Think Secret also reported that “customers with orders dated in early January are being told it will be some time between March 18 and April 1 before they receive their units. Those ordering 17-inch PowerBooks today through Apple's online store are being told the wait for the product is "4-6 weeks". We confirmed this by going through the on-line order process at the Apple Store but canceling at the last minute.

Being late with key new products has become an ugly habit for Apple in the last few years, exacerbating the fact that they are becoming more and more behind in the processor speed race with Intel and AMD for the “PC” platform. Apple is now nearly 2 GHz behind Intel now and no matter of benchmark juggling is going to hide that.

Both current versions of iMacs were late by months of the promised availability dates; the 15-inch iMac was “tardy” in January of 2002 in strangely the same way now as the 17-in PowerBook, and it’s backlogged orders bolstered Apple’s failing sales book then too. Coincidence?

The new iPhoto 2.0 and iMovie 3.0 version announced at MWSF 2003 have also been late by more than a month, finally available last week. The iLife quad package was also equally late to the store shelves.

We stated in our Macworld wrap-up, that we felt the big whoop-tee-do over the new “Aluminoid” TM G4 PowerBooks and the “Year of the Portable at Apple” was nothing more than a cover up for nothing new in the near future for significant desktop speed improvements. And so far we’ve been right, because the only thing Apple could pony up was unimpressive measly 1.42GHz G4 bump, which is more like a pimple compared to Intel’s new Hyper-thread 3.01GHz Pentium 4.

After seeing and playing with both units at MWSF, we felt that neither will set any sales fires. The 12-inch G4 PowerBook is woefully underpowered at 867MHz and over priced for anyone considering switching from a PC Notebook. The 17-inch G4 PowerBook with only a 1GHz PPC 750 is no match for the current crop of 2.6 GHz and up PC Notebooks as well, and besides who wants to cart around and veritable “ironing board” sized portable accept for the miniscule “I have one” market segment? There just are not enough media developers around to buy this G4 whopper to make any astounding sales figures.

The 15.2-inch Titanium G4 PowerBook is still the only Apple portable that makes any sales sense and it’s essentially obsolete as Apple waits for it’s sluggish sales to clear out the channel for an Aluminoid versions release.

I hate to say this, but there are dark clouds looming over the Cupertino Campus.



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