Rumours abound as Macworld NY opens

It wouldn't be a Macworld without the rumours that inevitably swirl around what announcements Apple Computer Inc. CEO Steve Jobs has cooked up for the show. This year, when the Macworld Creative Pro conference opens its doors in New York on July 14, it will be no different.

Courtesy of two leading Mac rumour Web sites, Spymac.com and Macrumors.com, the leading buzz appears to be a G5 PowerBook by February 2004, G5 iMacs next summer and for the enterprise, a G5 xServe by the end of this year.

Whether it is rumor or wishful thinking, an xServe based on G5 and the Panther OS has many enterprise-level vendors and customers salivating, according to Steve Olsen, director of engineering at Sybase in Dublin, Calif.

To Olsen, even more important than the G5 64-bit processor co-developed with IBM Corp. is the asynchronous I/O support in Panther. In benchmarks done last fall with Apple's Jaguar OS, the CPU was running at only 30 to 40 percent capacity.

"This means the I/O system was the bottleneck. Apple solved that problem and is implementing it at the kernel level. It is rock solid and has made a huge difference in (performance) of our database," said Owens.

Unfortunately, the introduction of the Power Mac G5 may also be the source of problems for Apple value-added resellers in the enterprise space.

"XServe sales are dead," said one VAR who asked not to be identified. The source said that the day Apple came out with the G5, xServe died.

"I couldn't give it away to my grandmother," he said.

Up until the G5 announcement, the VAR said he was having great success with xServe bundled with the xServe RAID solution.

"The hidden thing about xServe is the RAID. It is killer because it is Fibre Channel and is killer in conjunction with video editing stations," said the source.

While Apple tries to keep a tight lid on new product announcements, Matthew Ott, director of marketing and communications at Terayon, a broadband access communications company in Santa Clara, said the steep discounts Apple is now offering developers may be an indication that they are clearing the channel to make way for a new product. Currently, Apple developers pay about US$2,300 for a two-processor system.

"We can now get 25 percent off the developer price, which is already quite generous. With 25 percent, that is almost half off," said Ott.

Jim Johnson, chairman of the Standish Group in West Yarmouth, Mass, said that Apple strategists told him that the value of surprising the market with new announcements is worth millions. It may create a buzz and a buzz may generate more sales. But, certainly if one VAR's experience with selling products that are perceived to be at the end of their life cycle is accurate, Apple has another reason to keep things quiet.

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