Several recent announcements show that the forthcoming release of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther and the Power Mac G5 is opening up new ground for Apple in sophisticated new markets.

MicroImages and New Mexico Software are two non-Mac software developers preparing to bring their high-end applications across to Apple's new OS.

MicroImages produce a high-end product called TNTmips, an image-heavy map making application – and this is coming to the Mac in 64-bit form. The product offers Mac users a single, integrated tool for vector-based topological geographic information system project creation. It is widely used in the CAD, surface modeling and mapping industries. Now, MicroImages has announced its plan to release a 64-bit version of its product for Panther when Panther ships. Pricing starts at $6,000.

G5 - for the enterprise New Mexico Software meanwhile is preparing to unleash AssetWare 3.0 in the fourth quarter 2003.

An industrial-strength digital asset management solution, AssetWare incorporates document and content management (including text, HTML, email and PDFs) features. The new version will be equipped to cluster across several servers, and will offer built-in OCR and text indexing for all office documents, including text, Word, WordPerfect, Excel, PDF and PowerPoint files.

The company says: "The enterprise servers of choice are from IBM and Apple. In using the Power Mac G5 hardware, AssetWare 3.0 moves to the 64-bit processing power platform of the new Apple servers. The G5 is the world's fastest and most powerful personal computing server environment."

Apple takes technology lead Releases such as these seem likely to be the thin end of the wedge, as high end application developers begin to realize their software will run on Apple's 21st Century Macs.

A recent special report on Apple from InfoWorld said: "Apple can redefine the standard for quality engineering, cross-product consistency, and commitment to customers. That will rattle not only other technology vendors, but IT as well. As InfoWorld is fond of pointing out, disruption by innovation is a powerfully good thing."