June 8, 2009

Apple Announces Lower-Cost Notebook

Apple Inc. unveiled a lower-cost notebook with new software during its annual Worldwide Developers' Conference in San Francisco on Monday.

The event kicked off amid speculation by many that Steve Jobs, the company's popular former CEO and founder, might make an appearance following a months-long medical leave. 

Among other minor announcements, Apple unveiled battery enhancements to its 15-inch notebook along with a lower-priced Mac Air -- its thinnest laptop.   The company also unveiled its new "Snow Leopard" Mac operating system software. Pricing for Apple's new MacBook Air notebook will now start at $1,499.   Apple also announced a new 13-inch MacBook Pro, starting at $1,199, along with 15-inch laptop with extended battery life, addressing a long-held customer concern.

Shares of Apple's stock have been historically volatile during the June developer's conference, dropping about 7 percent during the 2008 conference and about 4 percent in 2007.   The stock declined 2.9 percent to $140.48 -- after a 6.5 percent rise in the week before the conference.  The stock had briefly declined even more following a CNBC report that the company planned aggressive new pricing for its iPhones, and that it would be updating its entire smartphone portfolio.

Although Jobs has not yet made an appearance at the event, speculation had grown in the months leading up to conference.  Some had hoped for a cameo appearance by Jobs, while others were anticipating revelations of a groundbreaking tablet mini-PC or a lower cost iPhone.

But despite the speculation, Jobs, who has survived pancreatic cancer survivor, has not made an appearance. 

The visionary leader stunned many with his announcement in January that he would seek medical leave until late June due to health issues that were "more complex than previously thought."

Investors nevertheless became comfortable with the notion of a Job-less Apple, despite the company's slowing product line,  a slowdown in consumer spending and an unclear succession strategy.

Indeed, shares of Apple's stock have soared 85 percent since shortly after Jobs announced his medical leave on January 14.

Jobs, who dropped out of college, co-founded Apple in a Silicon Valley garage in 1976 with his friend Steve Wozniak.  Jobs later left the company in 1985 following a falling out with the company's board of directors.

Apple somewhat stagnated after Job's departure, setting the stage for his return in 1997, after which the company has thrived with the launch of the widely popular iPod and iPhone.


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