UPDATE 4-Apple shows off iPad-inspired Mac laptop

* Steve Jobs unveils thinner, lighter MacBook Air

* New Air has flash storage, instant-on capability

* App store coming to Mac as Apple fuses product lines
(Adds analyst quote, more details from event; updates share
price)

By Gabriel Madway

CUPERTINO, Calif., Oct 20 (BestGrowthStock) – Apple Inc (Read more about Apple stock future.) (AAPL.O: )
CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the thinnest, lightest Mac laptop yet,
fusing features from its popular iPhone and iPad with its
traditional line of personal computers.

Apple, whose computers have taken market share from PCs
based on Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O: ) Windows, will bring a
version of its mobile applications store to the Mac, aiming to
replicate its success and spur development of new programs.

Loading up Macs with iPad features may help Apple stave off
investors’ fears that sales will begin bleeding over to the
tablet, which has stirred up astonishing demand. Read More About Apple (APPL) Stock.

The new MacBook Air — introduced on Wednesday with Jobs’
signature “one last thing” set-up — is designed to reproduce
the versatility of popular devices such as the iPhone and iPad,
and will incorporate FaceTime video chats, which Apple is
bringing to all its Macs.

Utilizing flash storage like the iPad rather than hard
drives like conventional computers, it can power up almost
instantly from standby mode and store data twice as quickly as
a standard hard drive. But it sacrifices processing power
compared with Apple’s other laptops.

“We asked ourselves what would happen if a MacBook and an
iPad hooked up? Well, this is the result,” Jobs said at a media
event in Cupertino, California, calling the Air the “future of
notebooks.”

It starts at $999 for an 11.6-inch model, weighs as little
as 2.3 pounds (1 kg), and measures 0.11 inches (0.3 cm) at its
thinnest to 0.68 inches (1.7 cm) at the rear.

“They’re basically merging the product lines; they’re
simplifying it,” said Kaufman Bros analyst Shaw Wu. “They’re
taking the strengths out of what they’ve learned on the iPhone
and iPad and bringing that technology over to the Mac side. It
makes a lot of sense.”

LIONS AND CANNIBALS

While plenty of attention is lavished on the iPhone and
iPad, the Mac has been critical to the company’s success over
past years. Apple sold $22 billion worth of Macs in fiscal
2010, comprising one-third of its revenue. Shipments rose more
than 30 percent and far outpaced the overall market.

Investors have wondered whether the iPad, a 10-inch
touchscreen tablet that began selling in April from $499, would
cannibalize sales of the Mac — as it has done for low-end,
Windows-based laptops known as netbooks.

Gartner analyst Mike McGuire does not expect much
cannibalization between iPad and Macs because of the gulf in
price tags. He said the Air will try to bridge Apple’s newer
and older product lines.

“It’s that missing link between the tablet future and the
existing notebook,” he said.

Jobs also showed off a new version of Mac operating
software, which the company will release next summer. Nicknamed
“Lion,” it includes an improved “iLife” multimedia suite and
incorporates FaceTime video chat, which the company recently
launched on the iPhone.

FaceTime will allow for video calls between iPhones, iPod
touches and Macs. Over 19 million Apple devices are already
equipped with FaceTime, Jobs said. It released a test version
of FaceTime for the Mac on Wednesday.

The App Store for the Mac will go live within 90 days, and
developers will be able to start submitting apps next month.
They will get 70 percent of the revenue from sales.

The original App Store debuted in 2008 and helped spur
sales of the iPhone by providing a wealth of fun, useful or
merely diverting programs for sale, at the touch of a button.

It houses more than 250,000 apps and has generated over 7
billion downloads. In addition, more than 30,000 apps have been
specifically made for the iPad.

In the third calendar quarter, Apple became the No. 3
personal computer maker in the United States with a 10.6
percent market share, according to IDC. It holds roughly 20
percent of the U.S. consumer market.

But Apple’s global market share is less than 5 percent, and
the company is aiming to increase sales outside its U.S.
stronghold. The Mac user base overall now stands at nearly 50
million.

Apple shares rose 0.3 percent to close at $310.53 on
Nasdaq.
(Reporting by Gabriel Madway and Edwin Chan; Editing by Robert
MacMillan and Richard Chang)

UPDATE 4-Apple shows off iPad-inspired Mac laptop