During his keynote at Macworld Expo, Apple’s iCEO Steve Jobs unveiled the company's highly anticipated Internet strategy, introducing a new category of Internet services called iTools and a completely redesigned Apple.com Web site featuring iReview and iCards. Apple also announced a multi-year partnership with Internet Service Provider (ISP) EarthLink to deliver the "best ISP service to Macintosh customers in the US. However, non-US customers are left gazing in envy at several of these new developments.

At the core of Apple’s Internet strategy is iTools, a new category of Internet services that takes advantage of Apple’s technology on both ends of the Internet - Mac OS 9 on the client side and services software (iTools) running on Apple’s Internet servers.

However, iTools require a US or Canadian Zip code – and so are currently unavailable to other worldwide Macintosh users. Apple UK was unavailable for comment. Macworld will report more on this situation when more facts become available.

"Our new iReviews, iCards and the revolutionary iTools offer amazing new ways for Mac users to take full advantage of the Internet," said Jobs.

"Mac users can now do things on the Internet that Wintel users can only dream of," he boasted.

Apple announced its first four iTools today.

- KidSafe is a "breakthrough way to protect our kids on the Internet", claimed Jobs. KidSafe specifies what kids can see, rather than trying to filter out what they shouldn’t see. Jobs called today’s filtering methods "bankrupt". KidSafe downloads a software module into the computer’s operating system, which then verifies that each requested Web destination is KidSafe by checking with Apple’s KidSafe server. Apple’s server contains over 50,000 KidSafe sites, with over 10,000 new sites being added per month. Certified teachers and librarians approve all KidSafe sites. KidSafe can also disable Internet email, chat sites and games.

- Mac.com is an "industrial-strength" email service run by Apple for Macintosh users. It gives users an exclusive address on the Internet and works with standard POP email clients, such as Outlook Express, Eudora and Netscape Communicator. Apple expects a "gold rush" for Mac.com names.

- iDisk (the "most profound of Apple’s iTools", according to Jobs) gives Macintosh users 20MB of personal Internet-based storage on Apple’s Internet Servers. In another blow to the floppy disk, iDisk lets users drag-&-drop files to and from different desktops. Users can set up public iDisk folders to share files with friends and colleagues.

- Apple claims its HomePage iTool is "the easiest way to build your own personal Web site in less than 10 minutes". It is hosted on Apple’s Internet servers. Apple’s customizable personal Web site can include electronic photo albums, iMovies, resumes, and announcements.

Apple's new-look Web site The newly redesigned Apple.com Web site, which currently draws nearly ten million visitors per week, also features iReview and iCards. iReview is a Web-site review guide, with Web sites reviewed and rated by Apple. iCards is Apple’s electronic greeting-card site, offering good-looking greetings cards that can be sent and viewed via standard email.

Apple and EarthLink announced a multi-year deal. Under the terms of the partnership, EarthLink will become the exclusive ISP in Apple’s Internet Setup Software included with all Macs sold in the US. Apple has made no comment on similar plans in the UK, or anywhere outside of the US.

Apple will profit from each new Mac customer that subscribes to EarthLink’s ISP service. In addition, Apple has invested US$200 million in EarthLink, and receives a seat on EarthLink’s board of directors.

"EarthLink and Apple share a passion for providing the highest-quality Internet access to Macintosh users, and together we’re going to do it better than anyone else," said Jobs.

"The alliance allows both companies to capitalize on each other’s strengths while combining the power of the Mac with the power of the Internet," said Garry Betty, president and CEO of EarthLink. "This partnership will bring our industry-leading Internet services to an increasing number of Macintosh users, right out of the box."

Macworld Expo - Mac OS X: cool "Aqua". Read more here .