Do you really want another iMac?
Reply 21 of 72
November 4, 2003 7:34AM
Originally posted by Amorph
In the analyst conference call, Fred Anderson identified the single processor PowerMac G4 and the big duallie as the top sellers within the line, so my guess is that Apple isn't just burning through old stock. They're actually building them.
I think part of the reason there's so much speculation about the low end is that the pro area is all taken care of (how amazing it is to be able to say that!), and so now it's the low end that looks kind of chaotic. The PowerMac G4 is a good deal where it is now, but something tells me it's not a long term solution - although how long it lasts really depends on how much pressure there is on Apple to keep an OS 9 bootable solution around.
The eMac wasn't intended for the consumer market (say otherwise, Matsu, and you're basically calling a lot of people liars who have no reason to lie about this) and it has a strange but successful existence as the educational machine for people who don't want Apple's preferred educational machine (the iBook), and the consumer machine for people who don't want Apple's favorite consumer machine (the iMac). This is not a bad way to make a living, but it seems like something that's due to be either replaced or renovated.
Also, the iMac has gone wandering off in unexpected directions. Before it was released, Fred Anderson told analysts to watch for when Apple could sell an LCD machine for $999, and that's when the iMac would move to LCD. When it appeared at $1299, then $1399, I thought they still had $999 as a goal. Maybe they did; but they missed it, and how. I wonder how much of this was to differentiate the iMac and the eMac, since the latter's move into the iMac's territory (by popular demand!) must have sent people scurrying to find comfortable niches for both.
So, basically, it looks to me like the PowerMac G4 sort of fell into its current role; the eMac sort of fell into its current role; and the iMac sort of fell into its current role. The iBook, the PowerBook and the PowerMac G5 are all clearly and powerfully designed for their roles. So the question is, how long with the company whose name and reputation are synonymous with industrial design continue with what amount to repurposed models?
The plain fact is that Anderson's original goal for the iMac needs to be met, especially now, two and a half years later. It needs to be Apple's iconic, affordable consumer machine, and Apple needs to be able to resurrect its original boast - a consumer machine with this year's technology, not last year's.
Reply 22 of 72
November 4, 2003 11:28AM
Originally posted by Cory Bauer
But now, Apple has a $1,099 iBook - that's fantastic! So riddle me this - why would I buy a flat panel monitor with an unexpandable 20 pound ball stuck to the bottom when I could get an iBook or PowerBook and get myself the advantage of portability along with that flat-panel? Hmm, why indeed.
Well, it's far less likely to get stolen, or left in a coffeehouse somewhere, the screen is much less dense (which is a selling point to most adults, who have poor and worsening vision) and also brighter, the screen is actually positioned in an ergonomic way, and adjustable, and some of the parts (drives, mostly) are faster because size and power consumption aren't as much of a concern. If you spill your latte on the keyboard, you ruin the keyboard instead of frying the CPU and the RAM.
Next, let me be able to remove my graphics card.
I'm not saying I'll actually replace the graphics card, but the satisfaction of knowing I can would lean me towards an iMac instead of a laptop, yes? Would this be possible in the current form-factor? Nope.
I really don't like this sort of self-FUD, where you convince yourself to get all kinds of stuff you're pretty sure you'll never use,
just in case
. That's the salesman's job. Buy what you need, use it, and save yourself the worry.
Now, consider what sacrifices would be mandated by a removable graphics card: Right now, the graphics are powered by a chip on the board. It's small, and Apple knows exactly where it is and how hot it is, so they can engineer that little ball around it (and there's more space in there than you'd think, too). As soon as you make the graphics card removable, the following things necessarily happen:
1) The base becomes a box at least 9" deep (14" if you want to support most graphics cards).
2) The base has to expand to support a lot more additional cooling, in case you decide to stuff some top-of-the-line beast in there that generates a lot of heat; and because Apple can no longer know where the heat will come from - there's no standard layout for chips on an AGP board. More cooling means more space is required, so you're basically flirting with the minitower form at this point.
3) The current iMac runs its monitor cable through the top. AGP cards expect them out the back. This means that you either have an external monitor cable to deal with or a heavy brow over the AGP slot with a cable sticking out that you can plug into the card. Either option basically defeats the all-in-one design.
4) You'd have to crack the iMac open to update the graphics card. Anyone who's actually done it can tell you that this is not for the squeamish (especially not the amount of force necessary to seat a card firmly in its slot). This is a
. Anything you can't imagine your grandmother doing probably shouldn't be there.
That 17" screen could certainly be replaced though with something brighter, more crisp, and a resolution that hits the 1600x1024 range. I'd buy that.
That would be a terrible idea. LCDs only have one native resolution; everything else is approximate and fuzzy. So you want the native resolution to be what most people would set it to anyway, and most people can't see very well. Where I work, I'm considered nuts for running my 17" LCD at 1280 x 1024 (its native resolution), but I've tried 1024 x 768 and my eyes start watering.
One last thing - if Apple wants to court PC users over to the Mac, they really need a desktop system that a PC user can slip comfortably into at an affordable price. The all-in-one designs, although fantastic, are far too bizarre for a
of people. I think that's why you see so many switchers picking up laptops - it's a form-factor they can feel comfortable with and not get snickers from their peers. I know that seems silly, but it's true in many cases.
I also think there's a different mentality, which you've also demonstrated: That niggling fear that if you don't buy a machine that can be upgraded in ways even the manufacturer didn't expect you might end up with a door stop in six months.
That just doesn't happen, and in fact I'd argue that one of the advantages of the Mac experience is that you just don't worry about that stuff.
You know...if the iMac was killed and the Cube made a return at prices from $1,299 to $1,799 with G5 chips, they'd sell like hotcakes...Hell they can call it an iMac if that's the problem!
The Cube's graphics card was only technically upgradable. I know. I have one.
Also, in its last quarter as a selling model, the Cube
priced from $1299 to $1799, give or take, and it
didn't sell at all. In fact, I think sales declined. That's what finally killed it.
Keep in mind that the true price of the machine was significantly higher, because you had to buy a display along with it. A Cube introduced in the iMac's current price range would end up costing people substantially
, without offering all that much more in real terms.
Reply 23 of 72
November 4, 2003 12:09PM
The answer is really quite simple.
Look, all Apple needs to do is to keep the existing design but:
-produce one model that has no chrome arm/FP display (just the dome) allowing you to use your own display.
-add DVI output for true spanning (eliminates need for PCI slot)
-add Firewire 800
-improve video card
-lower prices by about $300-$400
No, you don't get full expansion slots but that's what FW and USB is for. If you need true slots, get a tower.
This alternative provides users an AIO solution or choose the limited expandable model. Price is also better than springing for a tower.
This also keeps the existing and successful design alive but also moves it forward with new features.
Reply 24 of 72
November 4, 2003 12:27PM
I see a lot of good thoughts here. I do agree with Luca, Amorph and Matsu about price in general. I bet there are costs in the iMac that would be difficult to reduce, because of the movable arm and hemisphere base. Too little consideration for cost and ease of manufacture, maybe. A new design with models in the $799 to $1299 range would sell well for homes, and it would be realistic for business office clients. The design doesn't need to be elegant, just good looking and not take up much desk space.
Having said that, I also think the current iMac has created a market for classy, high-end AIO desktops. A high-end iMac would have a much larger display and sport a G5. If the market is big enough for Apple to offer both products, the low-end would likely have a different name, like eMac LE or something.
Reply 25 of 72
November 4, 2003 2:05PM
Originally posted by Cory Bauer
They're charging an extra $700 for 250Mhz and a Flat-Panel instead of a CRT. That's absurd.
..and the LCD is mounted on a very high-tech arm, and it has a round motherboard, and a metal base, and all guts are in a half-sphere.
DESIGN costs $$$. iMac is a designer machine.
iMac 17 inch, 1GB ram, 160GB hard drive, SuperDrive, AppleCare = $2,468.00
eMac 17 inch, 1GB ram, 160GB hard drive, SuperDrive, AppleCare = $1,668.00
Same functionality for $800 less.
Reply 26 of 72
November 4, 2003 2:15PM
The arm has been identified by Apple executives as the most difficult piece of engineering in the entire machine. I can't imagine how difficult the dome is to manufacture relative to, say, a (cheaper) iBook. Ever looked inside an iBook? In fact, iMacs are made by a company that specializes in laptops in a factory tooled to make laptops, so it's probably one of the
products Quanta has to put together.
So I think the redesign will, alas, have to focus on either hugely simplifying or getting rid of that arm. It's a shame, but if Apple can't make the design work for a given price point they can't make it work.
Or, as some
have implied, perhaps Apple should swing the other way and turn the iMac into something
to be upscale, and maybe keep the eMac as a low-cost desktop (perhaps with an LCD, perhaps not). Scrap the 15" LCD, stick a G5 in and a good graphics chipset, and make it worth its current price range.
Reply 27 of 72
November 4, 2003 5:18PM
Amorph, about the
It's not that I think they're lying, that's such a severe term to use against a businessman, I think they're spinning, marketting, if you will, not lying. If the eMac was created for education, then it was done only grudgingly so. As I've said before, it was built around the price (made possible by the CRT) and not the CRT itself. If schools could get an LCD eMac, or an affordable iMac, the so called "demand" for a CRT machine would shrink to nil as soon as Steve could say "one more thing."
Somehow, something has to be done about the state of the AIO lineup if Apple hopes to sell any machines inthe coming months.
I almost find the suggestion of the a high end iMac (18"+ LCD, fast G5, expensive case/arm) acceptable, almost, expect that when the price starts to climb too much, I don't expect desktop AIO's to do very well at all. The AIO is a natural fit at low prices. People craving a simple machine that they can plug and play, **and that they don't have to think about** also crave a price tag that they don't have to fret over. Any higher and the little psychological "value" bugbear kicks in -- "I'm spending all this money, it ought to have some future proofing expansion/upgradability..." or, "For this much, I might as well get a laptop, at least I can take it with me to the..."
I would argue that 999 is a mark most families feel comfortable with, so I offer a range from 799-1299, both marks around that level, something a little cheaper (and leaner) for the budget conscious, and something a
pricier, but handsomely tricked out, for those willing to spend a few more bucks.
And keep in mind that while we talk of this range as "budget" (799-1299) my university buys Dells for 599 (USD) w/ 15" LCDs, combodrives and fully loaded with Office. So, at 799-1299 we're hardly talking about stripped out loss leaders, just in case that particular apology was about to come up.
Reply 28 of 72
November 4, 2003 6:29PM
Originally posted by neilw
. . . BTW, I count myself as someone for whom a low-end desktop would be perfect. I don't need all the expandability of a G5, but want flexibility in monitor selection.
I agree too, that some kind of low-end desktop, small tower or cube is needed. That is all I really need. I don't need the capability of the G5. I know I don't. But I bought the 1.6 GHz model with combo drive anyway.
Reply 29 of 72
November 4, 2003 7:34PM
Originally posted by Matsu
...As I've said before, it was built around the price (made possible by the CRT) and not the CRT itself. If schools could get an LCD eMac, or an affordable iMac, the so called "demand" for a CRT machine would shrink to nil as soon as Steve could say "one more thing."
Matsu, I don't quite agree. While the education market did cry for a cheaper AIO Mac solution, I think they would still shy away from a cheap LCD iMac for the simple reason of durability.
Young school kids are like a bunch of inquisitive monkeys. They are always wanting to poke and prod and have their little hands on a screen, and a LCD panel really isn't the most durable thing for that kind of use. Also, they would want to push/pull the screen this way and that more than average, which would raise the risk of wear/damage to the arm. Now I'm not saying this will always happen but the chances are higher with young users. The CRT AIO pretty much solves both of those scenarios. Now with high school age on up, a lower priced LCD iMac would probably do well.
The LCD iMac needs to either have more bang for the buck or a lower buck. If Apple is redesiging the current LCD iMac, then they must feel that the current design negates both of those avenues. Too expensive to produce so they can't lower the price enough, and not adaptable design wise to the needs of a G5 (or a dual G4.
Reply 30 of 72
November 4, 2003 7:59PM
Schools now buy cheap (600USD tower plus 15" LCD) seats. Kids from grade 5/6 and up get laptops, which are MUCH MUCH more vulnerable than a desktop LCD.
The durability argument, which may have been somewhat passable two years ago, has completely evaporated in the last year.
Think eMac FP. "glom" the guts on the back of the LCD, and cover the front of the LCD with a strong GLASS window (just like the emac's CRT is now protected)
Durability concerns erased, please move on down the checkout line.
Reply 31 of 72
November 4, 2003 8:16PM
Originally posted by Matsu
...Durability concerns erased, please move on down the checkout line.
Matsu, I stand corrected.
I agree that an LCD with a glass cover would be just the thing. Are you still talking horizontal optical drive under the LCD or some sort of side/top feed vertical mount. I think the biggest push to the current iMac design was from the want of a horizontal optical drive.
Reply 32 of 72
November 4, 2003 8:17PM
I just got an iMac at work. It is a wonderful machine to work with, and I am amazed by how people just get mesmerized by it.
It really seems to me that if the current iMac strategy was going to work it would have done so by now. Every day the number of 17 inch flat panels out there increases by a large number, decreasing the chance of future iMac sales. It seems like it is going to be a long time before a G5 can be shoehorned into the current design. In a product line with 15-20 different types, I could see a place for the current iMac as a wonderful niche product-- but that's not what Apple is about.
Now I understand that due to processor problems, there were, in the past, certain outside constraints upon the iMac. With the G5 that is not an issue. I think the pro towers should go to all dual processors, with pro caliber graphics cards (eg ati 9800). The new consumer desktop offering should be in the form of a minitower. It should have single G5's at approx 0.8 the speed of the pro offerings, an upgradeable high end consumer graphics cards (eg ati 9600) and maybe 1 PCI slot. Will Granny buy it? No... but come on, Granny is not buying a Mac period.
Final comment: what is AIO? On my iMac I had to attach keyboard, mouse, and speakers. How much harder would it be to run one more line to hook up the monitor? How has AIO come to mean simply an unbreakable bond between CPU and monitor?
Reply 33 of 72
November 5, 2003 2:03AM
It doesn't need a new design, just some fricken color. The Current all white models are too sterile imo.
Reply 34 of 72
November 5, 2003 11:48AM
Originally posted by Matsu
... Think eMac FP. "glom" the guts on the back of the LCD, and cover the front of the LCD with a strong GLASS window (just like the emac's CRT is now protected)...
Excellent. The front face could look like the current eMac (maybe a smaller frame) but only around 8" deep, mostly to accomodate the optical drive (yes, they have to be horizontal). It could have an optional tilt & raise base which would attach to the back, no arm but a simple raising tube with wingnuts.
Reply 35 of 72
November 5, 2003 12:11PM
They need to upgrade the specs of the current model to give users more bang for the buck at the current price point. Then create an "armless" iMac and call it the new eMac at a lower price point.
I still wish they would do what I described a couple years ago, a wireless DuoDock of sorts. A detachable laptop/tablet that would contain most of the computer guts but when connected to the base (which contains the superdrive, ports, extra hard drive, etc.) it becomes a desktop. The base also acts as an Airport base station so you can use the laptop/tablet portion wirelessly yet have access to everything on the base. Sit on the couch and work in iDVD remotely or just surf the web. Problem is the price would be high but it would be an excellent
Reply 36 of 72
jon a thon
November 5, 2003 1:52PM
Ok I have it........The next iMAC will be a semi portable tablet. The screen connects to a small base unlike the current iMac round setup that you can disconnect from and access portably at any time. The tablet can be written on and is portable from just so many feet. It's insides are cooled by a special liquid and the machine runs on a G5 chip. They will include the new wireless keyboard and mouse as well. They will only offer a single 2.0 Ghz 15" or 17" version that you can customize. The base price will be $1,750.00 USD. Also the small base has a dock for your ipod or phone or PDA. Sounds great I want one!
Reply 37 of 72
November 5, 2003 2:36PM
Do you actually believe that?
Reply 38 of 72
November 5, 2003 2:43PM
Here is another approach. Call it the psudoAIO, and it may meet the need for two separate products. But first, let's say the iMac stays as a high-end, classy AIO, but with G5 performance. The psudoAIO is for the low-end market.
Half of the psudoAIO is a low-cost, headless desktop Mac, which could be sold into homes, schools and business offices. The other half is a low cost LCD display that can be sold separately into these markets as well. Maybe there would be two sizes like 15 and 17 inches. Now the nice part. This particular LCD will mount on top of this particular Mac to make an instant AIO. Let the engineers figure out a cheap and easy mounting scheme, and then provide a very short monitor cord, just long enough to go from the display to the Mac.
You can have it either way. If you like a low-cost AIO, you got it. If you want a low-cost headless desktop, you got it. No need to have two separate products in the lineup. Shoot it down if you can. I'm surprised I thought of it.
Likely it was posted before and I'll be accused of plagiarism.
Reply 39 of 72
November 5, 2003 3:14PM
snoopy, do you mean like a base that can accept various "display assemblies" rather than stand-alone displays? I think it would be interesting if Apple's consumer desktops were expandable using proprietary sockets and stuff - it would solve most of the problems associated with allowing upgrades in consumer machines. First of all, they'd be a bit more expensive (not THAT much more expensive), enough so pros would definitely stick with PowerMacs. Secondly, they would be super easy to install. Want a new monitor? No point in looking at all the different monitors available, making sure you have the right connection, etc... just sell the old one and buy a new one, and plug it into an easy to use slot/socket. It's similar to someone's idea earlier of the cylinder, where modules are added to increase functionality. That way, Apple can have some sort of control over how many upgrades consumers can get.
Reply 40 of 72
November 5, 2003 3:52PM
With regards to an iMac where you were able to fit interchangeable proprietary 'heads':
I suspect that most of the mark-up on Apple machines comes from components like the RAM, the hard disks, the graphics cards etc., rather than the CPUs themselves.
Remember the comment about Big Tobacco, where they said they weren't in the cigarette business, they were in the nicotine delivery business? Well Apple's not in the computer business, it's in the hard disk, graphics card, RAM, SuperDrive, etc. business.
The problem with offering people choice is that quite often they're smart enough to configure the machines exactly the way the want them, and avoid paying for the garnishing.
Remember when BTO was first offered? People were taking the Ultimate G4, with the top of the range processor, and binning all the things that they were normally roped into like the huge hard disks they had no need for etc. By doing that, they were able to get the top-speed processor, for the same price as an off the shelf middle spec. machine.
People would buy the basic base unit and the largest 'head', thereby getting maximum value for money. Apple wouldn't be able to shift the more expensive, higher mark-up base units.
That's why Apple doesn't allow you to downgrade via BTO. They must have shit a brick when they realised what the smarter customers were configuring. Apple knows that you want the dual G5 processors, but they're going to make you pay full-whack for the 160GB hard disk drive that you don't need as well. Who the hell needs a 160GB hard disk for heavens sake! They want to make the mark-up on the big hard disk, big graphics card, big RAM etc.
I'd be surprised if they offered us that much unrestricted choice. Maybe the top of the range base unit could accept the entire range of displays - the 15", 17" & 19" flat panels. Whilst the entry level machine could only support the 15". That way they could say that the top of the range machine gave you the 'choice' when actually all they were trying to do was pressure you into buying that top of the range machine with that big hard disk etc. etc.