Apple Computer unveiled, after a two-month delay, its new iMac desktop computer on Tuesday which integrates disk drives and processors into a flat display less than two inches thick.
"Now we have the world's thinnest desktop computer," Phil Schiller, head of worldwide product marketing, said in a keynote presentation at the annual Apple Expo in Paris.
Shipping from mid-September, Apple said the computer would be available in versions with a 17-inch and a 20-inch display, with a wireless keyboard and mouse.
Apple said in July the launch of the new iMac would be delayed until September. It put a dent in the share price of the company which has been at the forefront of computer innovation for decades, but whose global market share has eroded to less than 5 percent amid competition from lower priced PCs running on the Windows operating system from Microsoft. (Microsoft is a partner in MSNBC.)
Retail prices of the new iMac will start at $1,299 for the 17-inch model, or 1,399 euros in Europe. The more expensive and slightly thicker 20-inch model will cost $1,899, or 2,049 euros.
"This is a much more affordable line (of personal computers)," Schiller told a cheering audience of Macintosh users.
The model will take over from the current iMac, which created a buzz when launched a few years ago with its minimalist design featuring a thin display perched on a stainless steel pole above a white hemispherical base.
iMac needed a boost
Sales of the iMac have slowed in recent quarters, however, while Apple's portable notebook computers were doing well.
"7.5 million iMacs have been sold over the last six years. It's time for an entirely new iMac," Schiller said.
The new model, designed by the same team that developed the iPod portable music player, works on G5 microprocessors.
With the iPod, Apple broke into the consumer electronics market and has come to dominate the portable music segment where it claims 58 percent of the U.S. market for MP3 players.
Schiller also drew attention to Apple's newly developed business of selling songs online through its iTunes Music Store. Stores that were opened to German, French and British customers 10 weeks ago have already sold 5 million tracks, he said.
"Other iTunes stores will open across Europe in October," Schiller said, giving no further details.
Worldwide, Apple has sold more than 4 million iPods and sold more than 100 million songs in the United States since it was launched in April last year.
The success of iPod and iTunes, by far the most popular online music store, has pushed up Apple shares from a six-year low of $12.92 in April 2003 to over $35 this week.
Schiller reiterated that 49-year old Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who in the late 1990s came back to rescue the company which he had founded, was making a good recovery from cancer surgery. "He's doing great. We really look forward to Steve coming back to work in September," Schiller said.