But Holiday Sales Figures Held the Real Surprises

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YORK, Pa. ( -- Big news has never been so disappointing. The world has come to expect major bombs when Apple CEO Steve Jobs delivers a speech. But today at Apple's annual confab, Macworld, Mr. Jobs' famed last-minute "one more thing" was pretty much expected: the introduction of the Intel-based Mac notebook personal computer, albeit with a surprise new name, the MacBook Pro.
Apple's new Intel-based MacBook Pro.

Apple announced last year it would begin to use Intel chips in its computers beginning June 2006, but rumors about the stepped-up time table had been rampant for weeks. Mr. Jobs also showed new Intel-based iMac systems in the same 17-inch and 20-inch sizes currently available. All of the Intel Apple computers use Intel's dual processing chip, Core Duo, which provides much higher speed at a lower power consumption. The iMacs are available now, and the MacBook Pro will be ready in February.

Other updates
Mr. Jobs also announced an update to the Tiger X operating system with widgets; a remote control with FM tuner for the iPod; additional content for the video iPod from "Saturday Night Live"; a new version of the iLife software called iLife '06; and a new application for iLife called iWeb to make creating Web pages easy.

He showed two new TV ads for Apple products, one for the iPod featuring jazz musician Wynton Marsalis and his band, and another for the Intel-based Apple computers that begins "The Intel chip. For years it's been trapped inside ordinary PCs."

But still, it's what didn't happen that created the disappointment. None of the fantastical rumors came true: no HDTV displays, no new iPods and no unguessed ahead-of-its-time product that Apple has become known for.

Holiday sales figures
Some of the most surprising news came early with the unveiling of Apple's holiday sales figures. More than 14 million iPods were sold in the fourth quarter, far outstripping even the most positive of estimates of more than 8 million. That brings the total number of iPods sold to 42 million. Also noted: 8 million videos were sold on iTunes since their Oct. 12 availability; 850 million songs were sold so far on iTunes, with sales of 1 billion predicted in the "next few weeks"; and the first billion-dollar quarter for Apple retail stores is expected in the fourth quarter.

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