The iMac Channel

The Thin iMac

Dan Knight - 2000.12.29

We're moving toward thin clients connected to a powerful Windows NT server running Win2k and Citrix software at work. Outside of the design department, the Mac's days seem to be numbered.

I don't like seeing that happen, but management has decided that's the way the company will go. Still, it got me to thinking....

We're looking at thin client computers (glorified terminals!) at about $600 each - plus the cost of a monitor. That's only $200 less than the iMac 350, which already includes a monitor.

Thin clients are stripped down computers or souped up terminals, depending on how you look at things. With the ability to boot from a network server, I can't think of a more attractive thin client than a thin iMac.

First, remove the hard drive, since the OS and software can be run from the server. Then they remove the modem, since your ethernet network is probably already connected to the Internet. Ditto for AirPort. And then they skip the CD-ROM, since all files are on the server - and users could connect a CD-ROM (or floppy) with USB as necessary.

I think we've just created a $600 thin client with 64 MB of memory, a 350 MHz G3 processor, a built-in monitor, and an Apple logo. The thin iMac could function as a thin client on a Windows or OS X server, and probably with Unix and Linux servers as well.

By offering two versions, one with a Mac keyboard and one with a Windows keyboard, Apple could create a real cash cow for the growing "thin client with application server" market.

Not only would Apple be able to compete with anyone in the thin client realm, but the presence of relatively compact iMacs with their indigo Apple logo would also help increase Apple's mind share.

A thin iMac would not only help Apple establish a presence in the business world, but could also help them retake the education market. It's either that or miss out completely on the growing thin client/application server market.

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