TV-PGOctober 7, 1999: Sure, the iMac's still generating all the buzz, but Mac OS 9 attracts a little attention with news of rebates and special deals for recent Mac buyers. Meanwhile, our local Sears proves that nothing good lasts forever, and Larry Ellison displays a surprising reluctance to describe Apple's new handheld in detail, complete with blueprints and white papers...
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Second Fiddle No More (10/7/99)

One thing about the iMac: it's a scene-stealer. Remember the surprise unveiling of the original iMac way back in May of last year? That was at the same event at which Steve took the wraps off the "Wall Street" Powerbook G3-- the sleekest, sexiest, curviest laptop around. But it was the iMac that grabbed all the headlines, and the poor Powerbook found itself mentioned only at the ends of the articles, in sentences like "Apple also unveiled a new Powerbook that is neither blue nor translucent and doesn't have the phrase 'Hello (Again)' on its screen."

And then at last Tuesday's "event," poor Mac OS 9 pretty much found itself in the same second-string situation; the new iMac was the toast of the media, and Apple's new operating system version got lost in the buzz. But that's why we're happy that Mac OS 9 is finally getting a bit more screen time now that the iMac frenzy is dying down a bit. For instance, Apple just announced rebates and special deals on Mac OS 9 for select customers-- and there was much rejoicing.

First of all, the rebate: if you're using Mac OS 8.5 or higher, you qualify for a $20 rebate after purchasing Mac OS 9, which costs $99. Granted, rebates are kind of lame, but just think how happy you'll be to get that $20 check you'd forgotten all about, when it finally shows up in 2006. Every little bit helps, right? And then there's the newly-reinstated Mac OS Up-To-Date program, for which MacInTouch has the details; anyone who buys a new Mac between October 5th and the 23rd can get Mac OS 9 for $19.95, shipping and handling included. And if you've got a Power Mac G4 or an iBook, you can get the $19.95 upgrade price regardless of when you bought the computer. Spiffy! Of course, it's not news that'll let Mac OS 9 unseat the iMac as Reigning Media Darling, but at least it's something.

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Suckier Side of Sears (10/7/99)

So I just happen to be at the local mall to pick up a tux for a friend's wedding, and I figure, "Hey, let's wander up to the Sears computer department and check out the iGoods." Way back when Sears jumped into the whole iMac game, I recall finding a lovely blue iMac prominently displayed on a shelf at the end of the aisle, clearly visible and drawing the attention of anyone shopping for home stereo equipment, TVs, refrigerators, or washer/dryers. It was then that I had high hopes for Sears' re-entry into the Mac sales family-- and I was especially confident once Sears broadcast its own commercial pushing the iMac. I figured the Sears deal was a Good Thing™.

Sadly, Good Things™ often don't last very long. When I returned to that same Sears a few weeks later, the iMac no longer had the sweet end-cap position; a bulgy Compaq unit had taken its place. Instead, the iMac was relegated to the main computer aisle, all the way at the far end; unless you were looking for it, you probably wouldn't ever see it. So of course I was a little wary when I rode the escalator upstairs yesterday, in hopes of finding the iBook on display. I glanced towards the formerly-iMac-inhabited end-cap shelf, only to find-- a CD player. Not a computer in sight. Puzzled, I walked up and down the aisles for a while, trying to find where the computers were. Eventually I found them, lining up along one side of a single aisle. The iMac was still on the far end, and this time it was off. Then again, so was every other computer on display, so I suppose I shouldn't feel like the iMac was particularly misused.

Sighing, I did another walk of the aisles, trying to find any sign of an iBook. What I finally found was another end-cap display, this time at the end of the next aisle, far from the madding crowd. Sitting on the shelf on the left side was a little translucent document dispenser bearing the Apple logo in Tangerine, about half-full with iBook brochures. On the right was another document dispenser bearing the slogan "Intel Inside" and filled with Pentium III brochures. And smack-dab in the middle was a Compaq Presario 1685 notebook computer, complete with an Intel mousepad. And that, faithful viewers, is how the iBook is represented at our local Sears. Raise your hand if "Eeeyeew." So much for Good Things™...

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Larry Clams Up A Bit (10/7/99)

Ah, good old Larry Ellison. What's not to like about this fine fellow? He's a member of the Apple board of directors. He's Steve Jobs' best friend. He's a vocal anti-Microsoft crusader. And in some photographs, he looks like he should play a diabolical villain named "Zodiac" in an upcoming James Bond movie. Sure, he's been promising to add better Mac support for Oracle for what seems like eons, now, but hey-- pobody's nerfect.

And the best thing of all, Larry's about as good at keeping secrets as Bill Gates is good at clipping coupons. If loose lips sink ships, Larry's lips are probably responsible for the Bermuda Triangle. Many's the time Larry has let slip some tantalizing Apple-flavored morsel during an interview, and we're always grateful for the hints. For instance, take this CNET interview, kindly pointed out by faithful viewer Bill Walsh, in which the loquacious Mr. Ellison voices his opinion that "Apple is going to be the great digital appliance company." That was in response to a point-blank inquiry about Apple's plans to compete in the handheld market. (By the way, look at the picture of Larry over at CNET-- see what we mean about the "Bond villain" crack?)

What surprises us, though, is how little Larry's given us this time. His answer was vague, explicitly stated as his "opinion," and prefaced with the qualifier that "Steve doesn't like to pre-announce things." That's a far cry from the old days, when he'd start reciting unannounced product specs at the drop of a hat. Did Steve possibly smack him around after the last big bean-spilling? Oh, well; hints of an Apple-branded handheld are good enough, we suppose, but we would have liked actual details. We'd also like to hear him say, "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die."

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