Speculations On New Product Line....

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
It seems to me that many of us have forgotten what makes a Mac a Mac. It's really not that hard to speculate logically when you sit down and consider the basic facts. Technicalities, architectures and clock speeds aside, what makes a Mac sell? I mean we can all go crazy and argue over dual processor Ti PB's, 1.5 Ghz G5's, iCams and iClocks, but the basic facts will always stand:



For the past 4 years or so Apple has very notoriously made a radical change in its marketing schemes... And even much more notoriously than before, Apple has demonstrated that it now has two basic markets:



-The Creative Profesional - PowerMac, PowerBook-



There is no arguing that Apple has always been king in the Advertising and Graphic Design field. Also, there is not a lot of PC freaks in the video editing world. So obviously Apple has a lock on this market and will always be committed to offering those of us who are in the field with the fastest possible computer for these specific, processor intensive tasks: namely Photoshop and video editing in general. The thing is that this is an extremely small percentage of the general population.



-The general consumer - iMac, iBook, and now the eMac (which to me is not much more than a moderate upgrade to the old iMac model, but still way cool)



In this market, Apple is trying to push the idea of the 'digital lifestyle'. To help the general consumer jump into the hi-tech world, without actually feeling it... which has been the basic idea behind the Macintosh since its beginning: 'user friendliness' see, this is the reason why ' you can have my Mac when you pry it off my cold, dead fingers.' You just can't get this wonderful combination of reliability and ease of use with a Windows PC.



Aaaaaanyway, with this foundation of facts from Apple's ancient, and not so ancient history (I apologize for the length) here's my speculation:



I think that Apples next big jump ,whenever it happens, will include the following (please disregard the 'actual names', these are just theoretical, becuse my guess on them is no better than yours):



For the creative pro: A super freakin' fast G5 lineup of Mac Powerhouses (PowerMacs and PowerBooks) with faster superdrives, more room for RAM, bigger and faster hard drives, etc, etc . I don't know, but I just feel it in my gut; I think and hope that some ludicrous jump in clock speeds awaits us and will take us by surprise and we're all just gonna fall to our knees and, in a drone-like, fashion will punch in our credit card numbers into apple.com/store or walk into the local Apple Store with a check book and a pen, or a fat wad of cash.



For the general consumer: New line up of G4 iBooks and faster iMacs, but.... with a line up of new iDevices that will not only appeal to gadget freaks like yours truly, but will also be so freakin' easy to use (like theiPod) that everyone is going to want one. I mean you can just see how even PC users secretly and not so secretly drool over iPods. It's not hard for Apple to come up with the technology, which brings me to my nezt point:



Like any other good marketing scheme, when you're about to launch a really freakin' good product, but you still have a really good one out there, you wait and create anxiety in you market, until they can no longer take it and almost raise in arms against you, I mean, aren't we all aching for some kind of speed bump on our beloved Macs? I call it the 'orgasm effect'



Wha do you think? Too far fetched?



When I think about the awesome products apple has brought into our lives (e.g. iMac, TiBook) and how revolutionarily Apple has always thought, I'm no longer surprised that they surprise me.

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"Logic can take you from A to B. Imagination can take you anywhere"

-Albert Einstein
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    I agree with you. Take the whole digital camera idea. Current offerings from Canon and Sony have a ton of buttons spread all over the place. They're not easy for peolpe like my parents to use. They're confusing and complex.



    Apple has the chance to do to high quality digital photography the same thing they did with the iPod. Make it simple and accessible.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    ompusompus Posts: 163member
    I also agree with you... but the problem, for me at least, is that the two markets hit above and below me while abandoning the middle. The fact that the cheapest current tower is $1699.00 is ridiculous. What I want is a "budget" box. Now Apple is Apple and I'm definitely NOT asking for or expecting an E-Machine. Still, I think there's no reason Apple couldn't build a quality single CPU tower starting at $1099.



    So I see a 5 product line...



    AIO: G4 (from $699)

    Budget Professional Box: Single 970 (From $1099)

    Professional Box: Dual 970s (From $1699)



    Consumer Notebook: G4 (From $999)

    Professional Notebook: Single 970 (From $2299)
  • Reply 3 of 38
    [quote]Originally posted by clonenode:

    <strong>I agree with you. Take the whole digital camera idea. Current offerings from Canon and Sony have a ton of buttons spread all over the place. They're not easy for peolpe like my parents to use. They're confusing and complex.



    Apple has the chance to do to high quality digital photography the same thing they did with the iPod. Make it simple and accessible.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Heck, I wish Apple would make a VCR or a DVD player or a TV remote control or a stereo receiver. ANY of these devices could benefit from Apple's knack for combining hardware, software, form and function into a usable device.



    [ 10-18-2002: Message edited by: Chris Cuilla ]</p>
  • Reply 4 of 38




    [ 10-18-2002: Message edited by: RANSOMED ]</p>
  • Reply 5 of 38
    [quote]Originally posted by Ompus:

    <strong>I also agree with you... but the problem, for me at least, is that the two markets hit above and below me while abandoning the middle. The fact that the cheapest current tower is $1699.00 is ridiculous. What I want is a "budget" box. Now Apple is Apple and I'm definitely NOT asking for or expecting an E-Machine. Still, I think there's no reason Apple couldn't build a quality single CPU tower starting at $1099.



    So I see a 5 product line...



    AIO: G4 (from $699)

    Budget Professional Box: Single 970 (From $1099)

    Professional Box: Dual 970s (From $1699)



    Consumer Notebook: G4 (From $999)

    Professional Notebook: Single 970 (From $2299)</strong><hr></blockquote>



    You know, you've got a good point there, but there is a problem: I think that even if Apple could afford to sell their stuff for that cheap, that might mar their 'high quality' image.

    They want to keep their consumer line accessible while keeping the pro line accessible to, well, the pros. Believe me: their gonna milk their products for as long as they can. Besides, unless you do some really processor heavy work on your mac there is really no need to upgrade it, you'd just buy a whole new one after several years= iMac, anyone (from $1,199)?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    "Logc can take you from A to B. Imagination can take you anywhere"

    -Albert Einstein
  • Reply 6 of 38
    nebrienebrie Posts: 483member
    [quote]Still, I think there's no reason Apple couldn't build a quality single CPU tower starting at $1099.

    [/QB]<hr></blockquote>



    Hah, you better believe it! 30% margins are nothing when you have to spend 29% just to sell the damn thing. Apple's costs are very high. Not only do they have to spend money designing everything instead of building it out of parts that fall out of trucks like emachines, but they also many other problems that companies like gateway and compaq face!



    3 (main) reasons Dell kicks the crap out of everyone in price:



    1.) They hold meetings to talk about thing like how to build machines with one less screw. Apple can't reach this type of efficiency.

    2.) JustInTime Inventory. Dell holds almost no inventory and can change configs in a matter of days. If Apple tried to refresh it's powermacs every 2-3 months like many have suggested, they would go bankrupt fast. Also, Apple has to hold tons of inventory, watch sales trickle as they try to sell it off, (if they make $500 off a machine and cut $250 off the price, they will NOT sell 2x as many machines therefore in an economic slowdown, Apple hasn't cut the prices of it's aging product line, aka powerbook, ibook...)

    3.) No retail. Not only do you have to help retail partners dry up inventory before introducing a new model, thereby slowing everything down, but retail distribution is also very, very expensive. If Apple stopped selling Macs to your favorite resellers, they could easily slice prices across the board by 10% if not more.
  • Reply 7 of 38
    nebrienebrie Posts: 483member
    [quote]Originally posted by RANSOMED:

    <strong>



    You know, you've got a good point there, but there is a problem: I think that even if Apple could afford to sell their stuff for that cheap, that might mar their 'high quality' image. </strong><hr></blockquote>



    One of things Apple realizes and a lot of people here don't realize is the direction the PC industry is headed in. For a sneak preview, go look at the discount chain stores. Walmart = Dell, Target = Sony, Kmart = Gateway, HPaq, IBM PC division, etc. Unless you can match Dell on price or offer style, you can call it quits and go bankrupt. Ah the downsides of a commodity market.



    If you look at the way Apple markets, works, down to it's presentations and even secret keeping, it looks a lot like companies such as Gucci. Pretty interesting.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    neutrino23neutrino23 Posts: 1,529member
    I think Apple could certainly reduce the price and keep their margins if they tried a little harder. My feeling is that they currently place too much emphasis on design and appearance and less on manufacturability and reducing cost.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    bartobarto Posts: 2,246member
    Modularity is an option for the Pro line-up. See my post in the "Expected apple lineup using 970" thread.



    Barto
  • Reply 10 of 38
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    [quote]Originally posted by Nebrie:

    <strong>



    Unless you can match Dell on price or offer style, you can call it quits and go bankrupt. Ah the downsides of a commodity market.



    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    Bring back the Performa. It's not a Macintosh but will run Mac OS X. There are so many posting about wanting a cheap Mac. If these are Mac users, think how many feel this sentiment in the general public, who usually buy Windows PCs.



    The strongest argument against a cheap Mac is that it will take sales from the higher profit models, and therefore hurt Apple. If done right, it ain't necessarily so. The lowest priced Mac now can still be used as a digital hub and has outstanding graphics for games. So, let's make an email computer, Apple, and sell it at Wal Mart. Call it a Performa or whatever, just don't call it a Macintosh. Make it slow and dirt cheap, and sell a whole bundle of them to . . . who? And who are we kidding that Apple could make it cheap? I can see the objections, but I believe it can be done.



    First, who would and would not buy it? It is a cheap box, and gamers don't even buy cheap Windows PCs. It is for a kid's first computer. If he or she wrecks it, it was pretty cheap anyway. It is for grandma, so she can send us email. I know of a 40 year old computer phobic who finally got a cheap Windows PC just to do email. You may wonder why anyone would pick a Performa over any other PC? Four reasons, it is cute (as well as cheap), the OS is slick, it never crashes and it does not keep getting a virus.



    Second, what should it be? Simple. Just a box that can take a cheap VGA monitor, but Apple could sell a companion LCD display for some who want something that matches. Apple can design it for very low cost manufacturing. If they don't have the talent now, Steve will just hire a couple great cheapskate designers from Dell. It is basically bottom of the line.



    Why do it? People who buy bottom of the line computers usually move up to something better.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    mrmistermrmister Posts: 1,095member
    Let me get this straight: Apple expands its reach by making a really cheap, tackily designed Dell knockoff that can only do email and web, and selling them at cheapass stores for pennies on the dollar?



    Hmmmm.



    I wonder if Gucci has this problem, where people write in to the Gucci boards and beg Gucci to make knockoffs of its own products?



    Wait--that doesn't happen! OTHER COMPANIES make cheap knockoffs of the ideas that originate in Gucci products!



    Hmmmm...oddly enough, that sounds like the same model we have here...
  • Reply 12 of 38
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    [quote]Originally posted by mrmister:

    <strong>



    . . . I wonder if Gucci has this problem, where people write in to the Gucci boards and beg Gucci to make knockoffs of its own products?



    Wait--that doesn't happen! OTHER COMPANIES make cheap knockoffs of the ideas that originate in Gucci products!



    Hmmmm...oddly enough, that sounds like the same model we have here...



    </strong><hr></blockquote>



    It is a reasonable strategy. Apple makes their own knock-off, so to speak. When someone else makes a Mac knock-off, it runs Windows. When buyers realizes they want to do more than their cheap little computer can handle, they move up, sticking with the same OS usually. It is what they got used to and what all their software runs on. Why shouldn't Apple have such a entry level computer so people will move up to a Mac?



    Maybe I picked the wrong posting to reply to, with the reference to Dell. I don't think Apple needs to match Dell exactly to succeed in this, but they must at least be in the same ball park. Also, it is possible to design something cheap that is not shoddy, and this little box would do a lot more than internet and kids software. But in would need definite limits to keep it from stealing too many sales from the iMac or eMac. It could use the cheapest G3 that IBM can produce, for example, and FireWire could be omitted. Ethernet would stay for broadband internet modems and home networks. The video chip might be really cheap and lackluster. Apple would pick the best sales outlets, and granted, discount stores may not be the best.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    mrmistermrmister Posts: 1,095member
    Apple can't make their own knockoffs--that kills the brand. If that were possible, Gucci would create brands that sell at Wal?Mart. I doubt Apple is capable, intrinsically, of sacrificing design and innovation to create a cheapass product. Why would they know how? It takes skill to sell at the lowest common denominator: skill, supplies on the cheap and advantages of size.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    neutrino23neutrino23 Posts: 1,529member
    It is incredibly difficult for companies to make successful low-end versions of their products. This is why new comers to an industry can often succeed. The established companies defend their own mind-set and the new mind-set gradually becomes powerful enough to replace the old guard. When companies do try to make a low end system they cut out so much of the valuable stuff the product is undesirable.



    Apple already sells the old crt iMac for less than $1,000. They don't sell very many. Everyone wants the good stuff. To move in the direction suggested above Apple should simply work harder at cutting costs. This is probably not easy. I am sure they already have pitched battles internally about design vs. manufacturability vs. cost.



    Actually, I think I saw the 15-inch LCD iMac on sale for $999 after rebates. This is a good price. If they could drop it another $200 that would be a dramatic advertisement for Apple in the Sunday papers.
  • Reply 15 of 38
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Remember those cheap machines that were only good for email and light browsing? They were all-on-ones that ran Linux, mostly? Nobody bought them, because they sucked, and it didn't cost that much more money to get a significantly more versatile computer.



    If you want a $1K Apple tower, MacResQ would be more than happy to sell you one.
  • Reply 16 of 38
    bungebunge Posts: 7,329member
    [quote]Originally posted by Amorph:

    <strong>

    If you want a $1K Apple tower, MacResQ would be more than happy to sell you one.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    The Apple Stores are where the "switchers" are going, not MacResQ. If you look at all of the Windows PCs sold, I bet more than 50% are sub-1K machines.
  • Reply 17 of 38
    jccbinjccbin Posts: 476member
    [quote]Hah, you better believe it! 30% margins are nothing when you have to spend 29% just to sell the damn thing. Apple's costs are very high.... <hr></blockquote>



    The margin of which you speak is PROFIT margin. Apple is earning 24-27% profit per quarter - AFTER paying all the expenses you note. Yes their costs are high, but they still mark everything up 25% or more.



    [quote]

    3 (main) reasons Dell kicks the crap out of everyone in price:



    1.) They hold meetings to talk about thing like how to build machines with one less screw. Apple can't reach this type of efficiency.

    <hr></blockquote>

    Apple is very efficient, just in different ways. They want to produce a that can be opened with one lever and grant easy access to internal parts- an advantage to the customer that many customers would be willing to pay for.

    [quote]

    2.) JustInTime Inventory. Dell holds almost no inventory and can change configs in a matter of days. If Apple tried to refresh it's powermacs every 2-3 months like many have suggested, they would go bankrupt fast. Also, Apple has to hold tons of inventory, watch sales trickle as they try to sell it off, (if they make $500 off a machine and cut $250 off the price, they will NOT sell 2x as many machines therefore in an economic slowdown, Apple hasn't cut the prices of it's aging product line, aka powerbook, ibook...)

    <hr></blockquote>

    Apple has less inventory in-channel than Dell during most quarters, usually less than a week's worth. The units shipped to retailers and wholesalers are already sold- to the retailers and wholesalers, usually.

    Could Apple benefit from dropping prices? Yes, IF there are buyers waiting to buy. There are not as many buyers in a slowdown, so Apple has chosen to lose a little marketshare rather than spend their cash on discounts.

    [quote]

    3.) No retail. Not only do you have to help retail partners dry up inventory before introducing a new model, thereby slowing everything down, but retail distribution is also very, very expensive. If Apple stopped selling Macs to your favorite resellers, they could easily slice prices across the board by 10% if not more.<hr></blockquote>



    The advantages of well-run retail outweigh the disadvantages you mention. The Apple Retail Stores are doing gangbusters business, actually contributing to the bottom line this last quarter.

    Apple cannot run the retail operations of CompUSA, etc for them, although in the CUSA stores with Apple Reps, Mac sales have increased 80% year over year.

    The problem is not that the revenue is not there, the problem is that the business model has not stabilized so that Apple can make good decisions on price drops without risking the company.

    Yes, Apple needs to be more price competitive. The base-model tower (dual 867) should cost about $1,399 with 512 MB RAM. But Apple could only do that if they sold about 5X more units than they currently do. Dropping that price now might double the units sold, but not sell enough to make it a go. Apple has got to earn real marketshare the hard way, and take advantage of the economies of scale as they come along.



    just my 2 cents



    [ 10-19-2002: Message edited by: jccbin ]</p>
  • Reply 18 of 38
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    [quote]Originally posted by bunge:

    <strong>



    The Apple Stores are where the "switchers" are going, not MacResQ.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    And according to the numbers, they're buying. In droves.



    Low End Mac doesn't seem to have too much trouble finding people who pick up used Macs. "My First Mac" is a regular column on that site, for people who switched over because of a used Mac.



    [quote]<strong>If you look at all of the Windows PCs sold, I bet more than 50% are sub-1K machines.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    Maybe and maybe not. All of the Windows techies I know unfailingly steer people away from sub-$1K hardware, and so do I. 90% of it is so poorly executed as to be a false economy. And it is a known fact that 50% of the sales of the LCD iMac consist of the 17" model, which is nowhere near $1K.



    [ 10-20-2002: Message edited by: Amorph ]</p>
  • Reply 19 of 38
    Didn't Apple release a cheaper tower? Wasn't it square, about the size of a toaster... had some geometric name? Granted the Cube was horribly priced at first, but towards the end there it got cheap and reasonable. Now if Apple could pop in say a single 1GHz chip into a Cube and give it a good graphics processor, I'd consider buying one. All I really want is speed and graphics (and maybe a Zip drive, but beggers cant be choosers) that the current iMacs just don't offer. Oh yeah, Apple really needs to bring its displays into line with what other companies are charging for LCDs. And the rebates just don't cut it.
  • Reply 20 of 38
    mrmistermrmister Posts: 1,095member
    Blah, blah, blah.



    Look, unless you are a paranoid freak I think you'll agree that APPLE KNOWS this is a problem for a lot of people. They are working on the pricing by improving the chips & the package...I doubt they are ignoring this.



    If you don't want used, and you want better performance and you want cheaper product from new machines that's fine--have those standards.



    BE PREPARED TO WAIT.



    No, really. Read the above again.



    Get a book. It will be a while.
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