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Apple launches baby iMac

FIRST THERE was the iMac; now there is the take-away version, the iBook. Steve Jobs, Apple's interim chief executive, yesterday unveiled the portable machine, designed by Jonathon Ives, the Briton who last year surprised the computer world with the curved, translucent iMac.

The new iBook, which is expected to be available in the UK from September, will probably cost about pounds 1,000 including built-in modem and CD-Rom. Among its unusual features are a handle that folds out of the back and a choice of bright "tangerine" orange or "blueberry" colours, with curved rubber to guard against rough handling.

In the US, the iBook will offer wireless Internet access via a plug- in card and a base station in the shape of a small rounded pyramid. Each will be able to communicate with 10 iBooks up to 150 feet away. "That's bigger than anyone's house I know except Bill Gates," said Mr Jobs. "And he can afford to buy two base stations." Its use in the UK will depend on regulatory approval, which may be delayed. "The European telecoms situation is a morass," said an Apple spokesman.

The iBook may have some bearing on Apple's future, for while the company's latest financial results showed the iMac selling in growing numbers, profits were barely changed, indicating tight margins. Microsoft said yesterday it has fewer users in the corporate sector, showing a greater number of home users.