Apple wants iMac to be a hub for all the latest toys
by Alan Zisman (c) 2002
First published in Business in
Issue #639 January 22-28, 2002, The High Tech Office column
What does it take to get your new product on
the cover of Time magazine?
In the case of Apple
newly revised iMac, all it required was exclusive access to the
computer, and advancing Apple CEO Steve Jobs' MacWorld
keynote address by a day to coincide with Time's release
While the article caused grumbles from press members
left behind by Time's coverage, it got Apple, a company with
mind-share far beyond
its market-share, Time's headline calling the reborn iMac
Cool!" You can't buy that kind of publicity.
With more than six million sold, the original iMac and
one-piece design reinvigorated Apple since its 1998 release. But iMac
peaked in 1999, and while the company kept offering it in new colours
ever-faster processors, it was clearly time for a change.
The new release certainly provides that change; it is
a total redesign.
Like the original model, it remains a one-piece unit, but that's about
all that's the same.
Where the original came in a variety of colours,
welcome relief from
everyone else's beige boxes, the new version comes in any colour you
as long as it's white, in line with the company's iBook and iPod
And while the original's curvaceous design seemed most
like the new
Volkswagen Beetle, the new model's stark sphere and rectangle scream
art. The hinged industrial design wouldn't seem out of place in an Ikea
At the same time, Apple has boosted the power,
replacing the original
iMac's G3 series of processors with its next-generation G4.
The result is a mid-priced model that has nearly the
power of Apple's
high-end (and high-priced) towers. And combining the 10-inch
base with a thin, 15-inch flat panel display makes for a unit that
up desk space while minimizing screen flicker and power consumption.
The new iMac comes in three models, starting with a
$2,049 model with
a 700-Mhz G4 processor, 40-MB hard drive, 128-MB RAM and a CD-RW drive.
The middle of the line increases the memory to 256 MB and adds a combo
CD-RW/DVD drive and better speakers ($2,399), while $2,899 gets an
processor, 60-GB hard drive, and a DVD-RW/CD-RW SuperDrive. All models
include the 15-inch LCD flat panel display, with about the same viewing
area as a 17-inch traditional CRT monitor.
Apple is continuing to offer a pair of the older
models with the G3
processor and the bulky CRT display, enabling them to market computers
at the critical price point of less than US$1,000
As with previous iMac models, Apple is primarily
pushing the new iMacs
towards the home and education markets. Simultaneously, the company
the release of free iPhoto software, aiming to simplify the use of
popular digital cameras. (The company also hopes to encourage users to
make use of Apple services for printing photos and producing
but expensive hard-cover photo albums.)
All this is in line with Apple's vision of its systems
as "digital hubs"
connecting computers to digital cameras, camcorders, MP3 players, CD
and other consumer devices. Apple's software is aiming to make Macs the
simplest and most elegant way to use these devices.
Still, with its new power and space-saving design,
these new iMacs would
also make more-than-adequate business workstations, for users who are
to "think different" by not going with the Windows majority.
(And yes, as we'll see in a couple of weeks,
these new Macs can,
if desired, run Microsoft Office.)