The debacle that is Apple Computer's line of G4 Power Macs has gotten worse: The company admitted Thursday that Motorola would be unable to supply it with error-free versions of the 500 MHz G4 microprocessor until after New Years. As a result, the company briefly cancelled (the reinstated, with provisions) all 85,000 pre-orders for G4 systems (including 400, 450, and 500 MHz versions) and scaled back its plans to something more realistic. Industry analysts are incensed because Apple should have known better when it announced G4 systems in August that didn't even exist yet. Now, two months later, they still don't exist, and the high-end model won't appear until early 2000.

Instead of 400, 450, and 500 MHz models, Apple is now listing 350, 400, and 450 MHz models instead. Adding insult to injury, the costs on these models (listed as "Fast," "Faster," and "Fastest") haven't changed per model, even though each model now features a slower processor. So a "Fast" configuration, which used to feature a 400 MHz G4 on an older-generation G3 motherboard now features a 350 MHz chip instead.

The bad news arrived with Apple's less than stellar quarterly earnings, which were a lower-than-expected net profit of $90 million on $1.34 billion in sales, down from $106 million a year previous. Apple also recorded a one-time gain of $21 million, bringing the total for the quarter to $111 million. And, to be fair, it was Apple's eighth consecutive quarter in the black. The company shipped over 770,000 systems, down 7% from a year ago. Apple expects to have a strong quarter this fall with high demand for iBook, iMac, and PowerMac systems