Apple's Jobs and Intel's Otellini announce Intel-based iMac and MacBook

San Francisco (CA) - UPDATE 10 January 2006 2:30 pm ET - Not very surprisingly, Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs had a big surprise for the audience stopping by his keynote at the Macworld Conference and Expo. Six months earlier than expected, the company announced its first Intel-based products - dual-core iMacs as well as dual-core notebooks.

A new, desktop-based iMac featuring a dual-core processor, was brought on stage by Jobs and Otellini. According to Jobs, each of the system's two cores will be two to three times faster than the G5 processor that currently runs Apple's top-of-the-line PowerMacs.

Immediately as Jobs had said the magic words, "Thanks, Intel," the Apple Store Web site was updated with the most complete specifications to date on all of Apple's Intel-based new models. The new iMacs, it appears, replace the PowerPC systems which had been unveiled just a few months earlier, though they will retain the same innovative new all-in-one cabinets. The new 17" iMac will have a 1.83 GHz Core Duo processor, with 667 MHz front-side bus and 2 Mb of shared cache between processor cores. There will be 512 MB of PCR2-5300 DDR memory, expandable to 2 Gb. There will be a 160 GB 7200 rpm SATA-1 drive, plus an 8x DVD+R/DVD+RW SuperDrive. Graphics are supplied by an on-board ATI Radeon X1600 with 128 MB of GDDR3 memory on-board, feeding a 1440 x 900 TFT display.

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The iMac now comes with Intel's Core Duodual core processors

The 20" model upgrades the storage capacity to 250 GB, the resolution to 1680 x 1050, and the graphics card to become upgradable to 256 MB GDDR3. Both will feature the built-in iSight camera, and are available immediately.

Later in Jobs' presentation - prefaced by the now-famous catch-phrase, "One more thing..." - Jobs brought on stage the company's new MacBook Pro portables, a new brand for the fast-fading PowerBook. These new systems will also be powered by Intel Core Duo processors.

The new MacBook Pros are very much "portable iMacs," with a lot of the same technology carried over. Both will carry 15.4" displays with 1440 x 900 resolution, on-board ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics, and weigh 5.6 pounds. They will have remote infrared sensors built-in, built-in iSight cameras, and magnetic power cords that snap loose from the machine in case of a pending fall, rather than drag the system down with it. The entry-level 1.67 GHz model with 667 MHz FSB, 512 Mb of DDR2 SODIMM memory, 80 Gb of 5200 rpm storage, and 128 MB of GDDR3 memory on the Radeon, will sell for $1999. A 1.83 GHz model with 1 GB RAM, 100 GB storage, and 256 Mb GDDR3, will sell for $2499. Shipments will begin in February.

Eagle eyes may have noticed that while Apple announced the integration of the Core Duo processor, it does not promote it as "Centrino" product. Marketing may have been one reason to avoid the Centrino name simply to not confuse the new devices with a traditional PC. However, there is also the fact that Centrino products do not only consist of a processor, but also include a chipset, currently the 945 PCIe, as well as Intel's Wi-Fi component 3945ABG. While Apple did not disclose if it in fact uses Intel's 945 chipset, it mentioned that MacBooks integrate Apple's Airport 802.11g Wi-Fi chipset.

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Intel-based, but still Apple's design: Thenew MacBook Pro

"For years," Jobs reportedly stated, "Intel chips have been bored in a PC." He later remarked that Apple had done everything it could do within its power to "shoehorn" a G5 chip into a portable, with no luck, he stated. With the advent of the MacBook, the Intel chip will now be "set free," Jobs stated.

Midway through

Anticipation of today's news, according to Reuters, sent shares of Apple Computer soaring 6.6% in early afternoon NASDAQ trading.

The latest update to the Macintosh operating system, Mac OS X 10.4.4, was also reportedly announced, which is the company's apparent designation for the "Rosetta" edition that runs on Intel processors. This new version will feature an updated Dashboard feature, including a new Google widget. This will come in addition, says the report, to a new version of the iMovie software upgraded for HD capability, new DVD burning software, and new iLife software that will heavily promote the sharing of photographs over the Internet, for what Jobs is calling "photocasting." iLife is Apple's collective brand for the bundle of applications which is shipped with all new Macintosh models.

Microsoft Office Mac software was apparently demonstrated, running on a new Intel-based iMac with Mac OS X 10.4.4. A Microsoft spokesperson said that Microsoft would commit to producing Office for the Macintosh for the next five years. The statement had not been echoed on Microsoft's Web site at the time of this writing.

One of the company's photocasting tools will be software called iWeb, and will reportedly be based in AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript). This may be a major revelation in itself: that Apple has been working on developing cross-platform software using the same rigidly adhered-to, industry standard platform used by Google for its Google Earth software, and by Microsoft for its and Virtual Earth testbeds.

An FM tuner add-on device for the iPod is reportedly among the devices being unveiled for the device, according to a live report from this site. Conceivably, this could play along with Apple's apparent plans to endow the iPod not only with an FM receiver, but a transmitter as well, for use with a wireless media transmission system. An application for patent for such a system was recently filed by the company with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

This past quarter, according to the blogger - whose posts have proven reliable among Mac aficionados in the past - Apple is announcing that its Retail Sales unit, responsible for its Apple Store outlets, reported its first $1 billion+ quarter in sales, in the fourth quarter of 2005. Over 14 million iPods were sold during the holiday season last year, Jobs reportedly told attendees, versus 4.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2004.

The company's iTunes service, Jobs has reportedly said, has sold as many as three million song downloads per day in recent weeks, and 850 million songs since its launch.

For the duration of the Jobs keynote, the Apple Store Web site was temporarily taken down, with a yellow sticky-note in its stead reading, "We'll be back soon."

Stay in touch with TG Daily for more news and insight about today's announcements, as it becomes available.