The spotlight will shine on Apple this week when it launches what it claims is the world's fastest laptop.
The PowerBook 3400, codenamed Hooper, breaks "the 200MHz barrier for notebooks", according to Bjorn Gustavsson, a top European executive at Apple who recently demonstrated the machine in France.
Apple CEO Gil Amelio has hinted for some time at the arrival of "the world's fastest laptop".
Apple UK refused to comment on the machine prior to its launch today.
But according to sources, the 3400 will use a 240MHz PowerPC 603e chip and be marketed as a multimedia system that doubles up as a desktop. It is expected to include a level 2 cache and PCI slot, 3Gb hard drive, 12x CD-ROM drive and a 12.1in matrix LCD screen. Pricing will be between $4,500 (#2,812) and $6,000.
Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a US research and consulting firm, said any new PowerBook would be crucial to Apple's turnaround.
"The PowerBook division has some of Apple's strongest margins. At 240MHz this machine is the fastest - period. Intel won't be able to follow this for at least six to nine months. This is truly amazing for Apple. It will put it back on track and in a leadership position again," he said.
The product's UK launch, which will coincide with the introduction of a new PowerMac, comes a week after the resignation of Apple's vice president of developer relations, Heidi Roizen. Her departure is a serious disappointment to the company as she was charged with forging closer ties with the important developer community.
Earlier this month, Roizen was reportedly complaining about Apple's inability to provide software developers with a clear message. The official explanation for her departure was Roizen's wish to spend more time with her family.
This is at odds with what she said shortly after joining Apple just over a year ago: "I will leave Apple only if I am fired, the company goes bankrupt or I am asked to lie to developers."
Just when Apple is showing signs of returning to its former glories as an innovative computer maker with the launch of "the world's fastest laptop", along comes bad news to tarnish the good. Roizen is widely regarded as one of the best connected people in Silicon Valley and has been trying desperately hard to convince developers to stick with the Mac platform.
Her departure is a public relations setback indeed.
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