It’s an exciting time to be a Macintosh user and owner. Things are
looking good for Apple this year with a number of new product
releases already in the marketplace and several more to come. Shares
of Apple stock have recently been spiking into the $20 range after
hovering under $14 for several months.

While Apple’s market share remains a flat 3 percent of the total personal
computer space, analysts have become optimistic with Apple’s latest
offerings.

Apple’s online iTunes music store has proven to be a successful and
groundbreaking new innovation. In the two months since its opening,
Macintosh users have downloaded more than 5 million songs, many of
which are offered as single tracks for 99 cents each. The iTunes
music store is the first successful pay as you go music downloading
service offered on the Internet.

Currently the service is available only for Macintosh users running
OSX and using Apple’s iTunes music playing, recording and downloading
software.

Analysts are nearly giddy awaiting the day when Apple releases iTunes
to the legions of Microsoft Windows users. This will make the service
accessible to an audience many times the size of Apple’s core
customers.

Rounding out the success of iTunes is Apple’s iPod digital music
player. Introduced in late 2001, the latest generation of the iPod
can hold up to 7,500 songs in a package thinner than that of a
standard audio cassette. The music players are compatible with both
Apple’s Macintosh computers and Windows PCs. Things will be really
great for Windows iPod owners once iTunes is ported to their platform.

On the Macintosh hardware front, Apple recently unveiled their new
Power Macintosh G5 line of computers which are aimed at the
professional market. The G5 will be the desktop replacement for the
current G4, which in recent months have seen a sharp decline in sales
as users in the professional sector have long awaited a Power Mac
with a faster processor.

The G5 won’t disappoint. Once they go on sale in August, these
puppies billed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs “as the fastest computers on
Earth” will boast a new IBM 970 Power PC chip running at speeds of up
to 2 ghz with a 3 ghz version promised for late next year. Movie
making, audio sound recording and image editing will never be as fast
on any Mac once the G5 comes to market.

Apple is also putting the finishing touches to their latest operating
system update. OS X (Version 10.3) will build upon the rock solid
legacy established by the current and earlier versions of Apple’s
robust and stable OS based a version of BSD Unix. Once the OS is
released in the fall, it will among other things feature the
capability to allow users to make toll free, long distance, video
phone calls through a high speed internet connection as well as
enhance many other features already taken for granted in the current
version.

Apple continues to open Apple retail stores across the country every
month. One such store recently opened in Ala Moana Shopping Center
right here in Hawaii. There users and potential Macintosh convertees
or “switchers” as Apple likes to call them, can get hands-on
demonstrations on all of the Macintosh models currently offered for
sale including the popular iBook line of laptop computers, the
elegant titanium Powerbook G4s and the entry level eMacs and iMacs.
Those little iPods, running demos of OS X and the Apple iTunes Music
Store are all available for switchers and users at the Apple stores.

It certainly is a good time to be an Apple user and perhaps even an
Apple investor. After months of declining sales and ho-hum products,
it now seems that Apple may be on a roll to turn a major corner and
become a household name through the mix of music and computing
products that they now offer. See you at the Apple Store!

”’Melvin Ah Ching is a Macintosh consultant and user. He runs his own Macintosh Web site at”’ http://www.headgap.com/~macstar

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