Apple ( AAPL) started the countdown to the Macworld Conference & Expo next week by updating two products designed to help the company consolidate its existing customer base. Apple introduced a faster version of its Mac Pro workstation and its Xserve server, saying the products are nearly twice as fast as their predecessors. The latest Mac Pro features two Intel ( INTC) 45 nanometer quad-core Xeon processors, powerful new graphics and up to 4-terabytes of internal storage, with the standard configuration starting at $2,799. The server is priced starting at $2,999. The new releases are important for Apple but not core to the company's revenue, says Trip Chowdhury, an analyst with independent research firm Global Equities Research. "Still it's a good play for them because if you are an Apple shop, having an Apple server reduces your operating costs," he says. "And if you are a creative professional or have your own design studio, having a Mac OS running on a faster Apple server can significantly speed up your operations." Shares of Apple were up $2.18, or 1.1%, to $179.64. The stock is down nearly 10% since it closed at a high of $199.83 on Dec. 28.