Apple unveils new MacBook Pro, iLife/iWork suites at Macworld

Also drops DRM from iTunes, adds online collaboration to iWork at 'subdued' Macworld

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The new laptop, set to ship at the end of this month, will list for the same $2,799 the current model costs, but it will be configured with a 2.66-GHz processor, 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive and the same dual graphics capabilities of the smaller 15-in. MacBook Pro.

Near the end his 90 minutes on stage, Schiller talked up iTunes, Apple's online music store, and announced several changes, some of which have been instituted today, but also one that won't make an appearance for several months.

Starting today, approximately 8 million tracks on iTunes are available in versions not locked by DRM (digital rights management) copy protection technologies, and once downloaded, they can be copied freely to any media at any time. Also beginning today, users of Apple's iPhone 3G can download tracks directly to their phones via their mobile carrier's data network.

The price for DRM-free tracks -- which are available from all four major recording labels, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI -- remains at 99 cents each.

Speaking of prices, Schiller also announced a future change in iTunes' once-flat-fee pricing structure. Beginning in April, iTunes will use a three-tier system of 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29. Each track will be priced, said Jobs in an accompanying statement this morning, "based on what the music labels charge Apple."

"Again, this is only incremental," said Gottheil. "But Apple's removing two of the long-term problems with iTunes: the copy protection and the single price. I am pleasantly surprised, though, that you can upgrade your music collection to DRM-free," he added. "Now I can finally acquire the rights to my music and not pay for it over and over."

iTunes customers can upgrade already-purchased tracks to versions free of copy protection for 30 cents each, Apple said today.

Schiller also spent considerable time touting new versions of Apple's iLife, the consumer suite that comes with all new Macs, and iWork, its more business-oriented bundle.

ILife '09 features a revamped iPhoto system that can organize photographs by faces and places. The former capability uses facial recognition technology to locate other images of a portrait a user is categorizing, while the latter relies on GPS location data added to the photo by some cameras and cell phones. Apple's own iPhone 3G, for instance, geotags images using GPS technology. IMovie has been updated too, Schiller said, with features he promised would "blow away" consumers, including context-sensitive menus during drag-and-drop editing and video stabilization. Other applications in the iLife suite, including GarageBand, have also been refreshed. Schiller demonstrated a new GarageBand feature that lets users download piano and guitar lessons taught by musicians such as Norah Jones and Sting, for $4.99 each.

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