APPLE CUBED Once and future Apple Computer CEO STEVE JOBS is famous (or is it notorious?) for his ability to turn an ordinary product launch into something more like a rock concert. His star powers were in full effect last week at MacWorld Expo in New York City, where he unveiled Apple's new offerings to the Macintosh faithful.
The first surprise was a red-glowing, state-of-the-art OPTICAL MOUSE that will come standard with all Apple's desktop computers. Apple's old hockey-puck-style mouse was a disaster--difficult to use and not much fun to look at. The new model is ellipsoidal, so it's easier to tell which way it's pointing. Even better, it doesn't need a mouse pad, and there's no mouse ball to get all gunky.
The other star of the show was a stunning little machine called the G4 CUBE, a Power Mac G4 that Apple's engineers have somehow managed to squeeze into a gleaming 8-in. crystalline cube that wouldn't look out of place in Superman's Fortress of Solitude. Its vertical-loading DVD drive alone is enough to give a technophile goose pimples. Brrrr.
Jobs also announced that Apple's higher-end G4 POWER MACS will come with not one but two processors under the hood. The only disappointment was the news about Apple's new and improved operating system, OSX. It won't be released until early 2001; a beta version is due out this fall.
Ever since the iMac was released two years ago, Apple as a company has been as much about design as about technology. Is it in danger of putting form ahead of function? Same difference, says Jobs. "Our identity as a company is to stand at the intersection of technology and humanism." Yeah--that, and to make cool toys.
--By Lev Grossman