Japan Report: iBook (Dual USB) Announcement

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

Nigel Shanks
Contributing Editor

Oh, the irony! The lightweight portable the Japanese have been craving since the venerable PowerBook 2400, was announced by Apple Japan on May 2nd – right smack in the middle of the Golden Week.
Not to worry, everyone will find out about it when they get back from vacation next week!

Sure, in a perfect world the new iBook would have been the “one more thing” at Macworld Expo Tokyo in February that stole the show, but the announcement today doesn’t change the fact that this iBook is going to be HUGE in Japan.

According to this poll on Atsushi Iijima’s PowerBook News Web site, almost everyone thinks the new iBook looks like a winner. This other poll shows that most people thought the old iBook’s LCD was too small and the iBook itself was too big.

The size, weight and price alone is enough to win the hearts and minds of the Japanese Mac consumer.The CD-ROM model is priced at a reasonable 158,000 yen (US$1295), DVD-ROM 178,000 (US$1459), CD-RW 188,000 (US$1541) and Combo Drive 218,000 (US$1787).

The demand for a small footprint PowerBook in Japan has been so great, a used PowerBook 2400 is still priced around 100,000 yen (US$820)
Japanese Comet users have been fighting an uphill battle trying to keep their machines working with a dwindling spare parts supply and a 112MB memory ceiling. But that fight is now over. Expect the 2400 to go the way of the dodo as their owners finally have something they can upgrade to.

One cause for concern is the effect the iBook will have on PowerBook G4 sales. The 298,000 yen 400MHZ PowerBook G4 doesn’t look all that attractive when you can get the DVD/CD-RW combo iBook for 80,000 yen less. You can almost buy two base iBooks for the same price! Apple are going to have to either a) drop the price of the PBG4 to around 250,000 or b) update the Ti machine with a combo drive, new graphics card etc. Most people are expecting a speed bumped PBG4 in July, but sales of the current model are going to be sluggish if they wait until then.

It’ll be interesting to see how iMac unit sales are going to be affected, too. With space a premium in Japanese homes, people are willing to pay the extra money for the iBook.

Lastly, that clean, white exterior of the iBook is just begging to be customized. And Japanese don’t pull any punches when it comes to customizing things.The mind boggles when thinking about what kinds of iBooks we’ll see in the user groups section of Macworld Expo Tokyo 2002!

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