Wednesday Wrap-Up From Boston

by: Todd Stauffer ([email protected])

After what proved to be a rousing speech by newly self-appointed Apple board member Steve Jobs, the keynote transitioned nicely into Guy Kawasaki's developer showcase. Headlining the demo was MacQuake -- which the MacSoft demonstrator said will ship "late this month." While the demo machine's specifications went undisclosed, the game scrolled smoothly and vividly at full-screen, 800x600 resolution. Citing its reliance on GameSprockets, QuickDraw 3D and OpenGL, the MacSoft representative spoke highly of MacQuake, saying many times that it bettered its DOS counterpart.

We spent much of the day getting the lay of the land at the Bayside Expo Center, where Apple and many of the smaller vendors were business hawking wares. Apple's pavillion proved packed with new products, including those impressive new 17" AV monitors. Much of the Webintosh staff agrees that the 1705 should get a guest spot on Letterman one of those nights when the professional bowler is outside destroying things. These new monitors, however, look just fine.

The 9600/350 showed up a few more times than we expected it to, as did the 8600/300. The Twentieth Anniversary Mac also made an appearance, although it was the PowerBook 2400 that seemed to be littered around the show floor, making the expected release date of August 16th look like smooth sailing.

The star of the show so far (at least the 50% we've seen) would have to be Connectix Virtual PC, which has been featured in many vendor's booths -- Apple even had a staffer demoing only Virtual PC, touting it as part of their Connectivity station. Show prices for Virtual PC seem to be hovering around $129 a piece (plus a free t-shirt) -- you may find "MacWorld" similar deals on the Web.

Speaking of software sold, every shelf that started the day with Mac OS 8 on it seemed barren by 6 pm. I'm not sure if they were purposefully not restocking, or if they were really selling out, but both Apple and 3rd party vendors where slapping Mac OS 8 boxes into users hands like so many party fliers on Newberry St.

Vying with Connectix for mindshare is a new way to shoot your family -- you couldn't take two steps without knocking over a digital camera's box. Digital cameras were everywhere. If we get a chance we'll spec out the best. We still see that yellow Kodak DC20/25 series box when we close our eyes, but some other entries look more interesting.

Heard on the floor...
But enough impressions -- how about some rumors? eMates were everywhere on the show floor -- especially in the education pavillion -- and rumor has it that Apple actually began selling eMates directly to consumers on August 2nd. We'll try to get an honest confirmation on that one -- we've heard the "consumer" word before, only to find out they meant "parents."

There's also a new consumer version of the eMate in the works -- we have confirmation that a new feature set will be aimed specifically at grown ups. The timeframe? We were told to check back in November.

MRJ 2.0 will be available in a downloadable alpha version from the AppleJava site within two weeks. No work yet on how the Microsoft/Apple love-in will affect the currently healthy competition between their run-times. Java 1.1 will hit the Mac, though, and soon.

Finally... speculation barely worth printing was whispered a few places on the floor -- serious price cuts on products coming out of Apple's imaging division. Timeframe? "Soon."