Apple raises iMac prices

Apple Computer has decided to raise the price of its new iMac line of computers, to cover the rising costs of some computer...

Apple Computer has decided to raise the price of its new iMac line of computers, to cover the rising costs of some computer components.

Speaking at the MacWorld Expo in Tokyo, Apple's chief executive officer, Steve Jobs said the three-fold increase in the cost for memory and a 25% rise in the price of LCD monitors, had forced Apple to raise its prices.

Effective immediately, the price of the 700MHz G4-based iMac with CD-RW drive will be increased to $1,399 (£978), the 700MHz G4-based iMac with Combo drive will rise to $1,599 (£1,118), and the 800MHz G4-based iMac with SuperDrive will be priced at $1,899 (£1,329).

Jobs said he hoped the price rises will be temporary, but admitted he was not sure how long the price trend would last.

Memory chip prices have been rising from all-time lows since late last year. The spot price of 256M bytes of DRAM (dynamic RAM) is around $65 (£46) per stick, according to data from memory market watchers ICIS-LOR. Six months ago, the same piece of memory was selling on the spot market for around $22 (£16).

While the increase in prices takes immediate effect, the company will meet existing reseller orders and Apple online store orders at the original pricing, Jobs said.

The announcement of the price increase comes as Apple said production of the new iMac has reached the point where the company can begin clearing a backlog in demand. Apple has so far, shipped 125,000 new iMacs since the model's launch on 7 January, with an additional 5,000 units shipping each day, Jobs said.

"It's a big hit," said Jobs. "We have not been able to keep up with demand."

With the increase in production of the machine, Jobs said Apple expects to have caught up with demand and cleared its backlog of orders by the end of April.

Apple has also updated its iPod music player. The latest version, which has a storage capacity of 10Gbytes or about 2,000 songs, is priced at $499 (£348). The earlier 5Gbyte iPod, is still $399 (£279).

In addition, the company unveiled a 23in LCD display, the Cinema HD Display, which can support 16.7 million colours and has a 160-degree viewing angle. It will be available next month for $3,499 (£2,446).

On the software side, Apple announced Bluetooth support for Mac OS X, designed to allow Macintosh computers to interface with PDAs and mobile phones using the short-range wireless networking technology.

In April, Apple will make its Bluetooth software for Mac OS X available as a free download from its Web site and is selling a Bluetooth USB adaptor for Macintosh computers for $49 (£35).

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