Apple introduces new computers, reduces prices

February 15, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

SAN JOSE, CALIF — SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Apple Computer Inc., continuing to cut prices but still not reducing them to IBM clone levels, introduced six computers last week -- half of which will sell for under $2,000.

Also included is the first color model of Apple's wildly popular PowerBook notebook computer.

The machines extend a shift in the company's sales to less profitable computers. Apple hopes to offset this by selling more computers, but it could be forced to trim expenses if the gamble doesn't pay off. The company said it sold 30 percent more computers in its most recent quarter than it did a year before, and expects the growth to continue.

Personal computer prices have fallen sharply in recent months, but even in the face of a price war, Apple has managed to keep some of the premium it has always charged for its computers vs. IBM-compatible counterparts.

Apple officials said they are determined to continue spending heavily on research and development and wouldn't be able to do so if they priced their computers the same as IBM clones.

"As soon as we become the same as everybody else, there's no room for Apple to be around," said Brodie Keast, director of desktop product marketing.

Analysts said the company's customers are still willing to pay more, although not nearly as much as two years ago, when Apple began to slim down its profit margins.

Analysts said Apple's most immediate problem will be producing enough of the machines.

The new computers include:

* The company's least expensive color computer, the $1,389 Color Classic, with a built-in 10-inch Sony Trinitron screen. Analysts said the machine might attract price-conscious shoppers who might otherwise have chosen a Macintosh LC.

* A beefed-up version of the company's best-selling Macintosh LC, the LC III, for the same $1,349 price as its predecessor, the LC II.

* A new line of computers, the Macintosh Centris series, that fits between the low-end Classic and LC computers and the high-powered Quadra models. They start at $1,859.

* The Quadra 800, whose $4,679 price tag is $2,700 less than what a less powerful Quadra model cost just 15 months ago.

* Apple's first color notebook computer, the $3,399 PowerBook 165c. The computer is expected to be popular even though it uses a "passive matrix" screen technology that is cheaper and more available but much less sharp to view than "active matrix" screens used on some competing portables.

The new Laserwriters, at $819 and $1,000, are Apple's least expensive laser printers to date.

Both employ a new printer engine -- the main element of a laser printer -- developed by Fuji Xerox rather than the Canon engine that was used in all previous laser printers from Apple and the Hewlett-Packard Co.

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