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Apple Introduces Big Mac

March 20, 1990

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) _ Analysts said Apple Computer’s new, more powerful and speedier Macintosh model shows the company is continuing its strategy of selling expensive computers with high margins.

That’s despite recent criticism from Wall Street and some of its customers that the company desperately needs a low-cost, updated version of its original Macintosh.

Apple executives promised to soon get cheaper models of the enormously popular machines on the market.

″We will have new compact machines at lower price points and modular machines at lower price points,″ said Randy Battat, Apple’s vice president for marketing, said at a news conference on Monday. He refused to say when those machines will be available.

Apple’s new Macintosh IIfx is based on a speedy version of Motorola Inc.’s 68030 microprocessor and is twice as fast as the Macintosh IIci introduced six months ago. It will enable the company to compete better in the $6 billion a year market for workstations, which are powerful and fast desktop computers.

The IIfx costs from $9,696 to $11,497, nearly $3,000 more than the IIci and in the same range as competing workstations.

While the new machine won’t satisfy critics who blame the company’s recent financial woes on the absence of a cheap Macintosh, Apple responded to the call for lower prices by announcing decreases of up to 50 percent on its memory expansion kits for almost all Macintosh systems, as well as LaserWriter printers.

Apple also introduced video display cards that improve graphic display and will compete with those sold by other companies; a new release of its implementation of the Unix operating system; and new training programs for customers and authorized Apple resellers.

The Macintosh IIfx is available in three configurations - with a single floppy disk drive, with an 80-megabyte hard disk drive, or with a 160-megabyte drive. Each comes with 4 megabytes of internal memory, and the machine is expandable to 8 megabytes.

Many of the people who developed the new system originally worked at such rival workstation makers as Sun Microsystems Inc. and Apollo Computer.

William Lempesis, an analyst with Dataquest Inc., a San Jose market research company, said the new machine shows that Apple is continuing efforts to better position itself for a greater share of the high-end corporate computer market, where profits are higher.

In the last year, Apple’s sales have declined, but the company made more money per machine, indicating a switch in sales toward higher-priced, more profitable units.

Lempesis said the Macintosh IIfx will compete with workstations used for such technical work as computer-aided design.

″One of the objections to the Mac has been pure speed and processing power,″ said Jennifer Aurand, a spokeswoman for Versacad Corp., a software maker in Huntington Beach, adding that the new machine ″allows the Mac to compete more directly with (Sun’s) Sparcstation.″

The new version of Unix also is likely to assist Apple in the workstation area. Federal government agencies and universities generally use computers that run the Unix operating system.

The Macintosh IIfx won a generally enthusiastic response among industry observers, but the company is still criticized for a lack of cheap products that has resulted in a loss of sales to companies selling less expensive IBM- PC compatibles.

Apple slashed prices by up to 17 percent on its low-end computers in February after laying off 400 people because of slow sales. In the first quarter, which ended Dec. 29, profit fell 11 percent to $124.8 million. Revenue grew just 6 percent to $1.49 billion.

Apple’s troubles recently led to a major management shakeup, including the resignation of two division presidents, and appointment of a chief operating officer.

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