hi, i'm a newbie so i'm wrong
, but i've been lurking here for a while, so.. err.. yeah.
some thoughts on the iMac past and present:
when apple first introduced the colored iMac, they were very competitive hardware- and price-wise. the base model was $999 (sorry to bring up that number again..lol). it was friendly and inviting. it was new and radical without being offensive or daunting or too 'weird'. it let you do everything a consumer could want, and it carried some of that apple prestige, that reputation of high-performance, for those who were in the know. just prior to this point, the world of apple was strictly for professionals, at a desk or on the go. at least, as a know-nothing consumer, that's how i saw things.
if you wanted real muscle in the digital art world (i'm a musician) and didnt want things crashing and breaking down, you got a powermac- it was the only sane choice at that time, largely because of lingering notions of where the PC world was at before win98SE. and now if you wanted a no-hassles simple computer, now you could get an iMac. it had everything the powermacs had except the expandability. at first, anyway. and in some ways, it had even more.
really, how could apple have gone wrong with this new personal computer? well, they really didn't go wrong and sold a bajillion of them. all of a sudden, apple was no longer an "oh, yeah, apple makes computers for ordinary folks, but why would i buy one?" company, but a "hmm, maybe i should check out these colorful lil' things. i heard they do internet good" company. they gave it all to you for $999 (sorry). at one point you could buy a new one (well actually it was an old one bumped down the line...) for $799. and this was when PC's were more expensive in general than they are today (i might be wrong about that).
so the result of all this is that suddenly there were two choices for the average new-computer buyer: PC and iMac. not powermac, iMac. that, to a lessor degree, is the same choice new buyers have today. PC or iMac.
i have some friends that still think that i use an iMac. i have both a g4 tower and powerbook. they think iMac. iMac. nobody knows what an eMac is (except for educatio0n people or mac fans in general) and even if they did, they wouldn't buy it because it is somehow 'less' than an iMac.
the iMac is the gravitational center, like it or not, apple, of what the apple computer experience is. it is a big part of the reason we can still buy a mac at all.
it needs to represent the same things that it used to with its first colored introduction. simple, clean, cute, capable, powerful (but not too Power-ful) and.... affordable, given the apple tax. currently, none of apple's computers are this. sure the eMac is cute, but nobody knows what it is, and apple barely wants the thing around, it seems. it can be argued that the current iMac is NONE of those things, and that's a real big problem.
in my opinion, apple will never enjoy success like they did the original colored iMac. they can't, because, conceptually speaking, they split it in two- the eMac now takes the place where the iMac should be in terms of price and simplicity (what happened to near-processor parity??), and the iMac now takes the place of, well, what is it good for? the ergonomically challenged? people obsessed with the color white? sure i'd buy one if i was rich. how many would they sell if the eMac was spec'd and promoted just as high as the iMac? close to zero, i bet.
so.... here's hoping apple finds that killer conceptual combination and markets it appropriately. because if apple can't make their iMac, the paradigm of the apple experience, a winner on all these points (simple, clean, cute, capable, powerful and affordable), they they might as well throw in the marketshare towel. and the only way that i can see for them to do that is for them to kill the eMac, and put the iMac in its conceptual place.
apple thinks that people bought the iMacs cause they were revolutionary, and so are trying to keep revolutionizing the computer experience. i think that's great, but it should NOT be the iMac doing that. it should be another model altogether that pushes those conceptual boundaries. the iMac needs to be a stable machine in that respect. they should not be experimenting so radically and so expensively with their consumer model, period.
hope that made sense to the 4 of you that read the whole thing, hehe.