Apple Archive

That 70s iMac

- 2001.03.02

As many already know, last week during the MacWorld Expo Tokyo keynote, Steve Jobs unveiled two new iMac colours - New iMac colorsBlue Dalmatian and Flower Power. Someone at Apple must have really liked the 70s. However, this is not the 70s, and "Flower power" does not belong.

Blue Dalmatian looks sort of like the "Blue capsules" desktop picture released with Mac OS 8.5. I had no idea what they were thinking then - and I certainly would have never guessed that someone would actually use that on the outside of a computer. I didn't like that pattern then, and it looks even worse now.

Either Apple doesn't want to sell any more iMacs, or they want to win an award for "ugliest computer of the year," which these two iMacs would certainly win. No, wait, there has got to be something worse - maybe one of those $500 PC'sÖ

Anyway, I have a feeling that the current iMac's form factor is about due to be changed. Although Apple managed to keep the "compact" Mac form factor alive for almost nine years, that isn't possible in today's computer market. Things change quickly, and selling a computer for three years straight with an almost unchanged form factor is almost impossible. But Apple managed to do it - how much longer can they keep it up?

First of all, you can't sell a 15" CRT display forever - just like Apple couldn't sell the original Mac's 9" screen forever. The 15" monitor has to go at some point. I think it might be time for a 17" iMac, which I was hoping would come out of Cupertino this time, or at least one with a 15" flat panel display. Then, of course, Apple wouldn't be able to sell them as inexpensively as they can while keeping the 15" CRT.

That means that many schools and first-time computer users won't consider the iMac an option. On the other hand, keeping the 15" CRT isn't good, either. People will be starting to upgrade from the older 233 MHz iMacs soon, if they're not doing so already, and don't necessarily want to buy another computer with a 15" CRT to last them three or four more years. They might consider a 17" CRT or 15" flat panel.

What would be ideal is if Apple could offer a 17" CRT or 15" flat panel design as the top of the line model only - and still keep the 15" CRT model as the base model. That may not be possible, but if it could be done cheaply enough, it would be a good way for Apple's iMac to appeal to more people.

The next thing that needs to be changed are those hideous new colours. Who wants flowers on their computer? I certainly don't, but I didn't mind the Indigo, Ruby, Sage, Graphite, and Snow. (OK, I didn't care for sageÖ) As Chris Lawson mentioned in his article, Flower What?, these new colours make the iMac look like another colourful kids' toy. It was bad enough with the fruit flavoured iMacs.

Apple was heading in the right direction with the Indigo, Ruby, and Sage iMacs, but this time they took a wrong turn. Hopefully, Apple will be able to turn back in the right direction again. While Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian may coordinate with the MP3s that they will be playing, they certainly don't go with most family rooms. Apple needs to reenter the market with some "dark, awe-inspiring, and professional looking" colours.

Also, Apple needs to know what market they are going to be selling these machines to - and let the users know it as well. What markets are these "70s style" iMacs designed for anyway? I can picture them in a 12-year-old girl's room, but as a family computer, it's pretty hard to envision them. The $100 price increase makes the iMac less competitive with similarly equipped PCs. It sort of makes me think of the title of a song by pop-star Britney Spears; "Oops, I did it again." Apple has done it again - released something that has no clearly defined market.

Apple needs to give the high-end model a 15" flat panel or 17" CRT display, change the colours to ones that a wider range of people will like, and possibly drop the base model back to $799. Only then will the iMac be able to compete with other machines as it should.

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