One More iMac, Please

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Date: Thursday, January 17th, 2002, 08:45
Category: Archive

When the new LCD iMac appeared on the cover of Time, my reaction was quite similar to the one I had when the original was introduced. I was not thrilled by the chrome and white style of it, but it struck me that separating the screen from the base was a great design approach. I liked the concept, a lot. This thing is so much lighter and smaller than the original iMac. This is the same kind of improvement the iBook went through when it got reduced in size and weight. I am also hooked on the sharpness and contrast of LCD screens. I finally gave away my last CRT monitor this week. But, I don’t feel confident that the LCD iMac will have the same initial success the original did, because the price went up, not down as it did with the all new iBook.


When the new LCD iMac appeared on the cover of Time, my reaction was quite similar to the one I had when the original was introduced. I was not thrilled by the chrome and white style of it, but it struck me that separating the screen from the base was a great design approach. I liked the concept, a lot. This thing is so much lighter and smaller than the original iMac. This is the same kind of improvement the iBook went through when it got reduced in size and weight. I am also hooked on the sharpness and contrast of LCD screens. I finally gave away my last CRT monitor this week. But, I don’t feel confident that the LCD iMac will have the same initial success the original did, because the price went up, not down as it did with the all new iBook.

The entry level machine is just too expensive at $1,299 in the midst of a recession. With the cost of software and the amount of time I spend in front of a computer, a few hundred dollars seems insignificant, especially for the LCD screen and G4 performance. But, for first time buyers and home users, low price is a requirement. It is a good idea to keep offering the $799 and $999 CRT iMacs for the time being. Even if the cost of the LCD screen reduces unit sales of the more expensive machines, it should still add up to more profit for Apple. The CRT iMac was in a big time sales slump due as much to fashion as the economy.

I think Apple should be working on a fourth “value” LCD iMac in order to discontinue it’s CRT offerings entirely. This iMac would sport a 14″ LCD on it’s arm, G3 processor, and a 20GB HD for just $999. I would never buy this machine, but it might just be possible to offer it in about six months, especially if the company can shave $100 off each of the other LCD iMacs by then.

When the original Bondi Blue iMac was introduced, I felt sure it would be a huge success for Apple. I never understood why the All-in-One G3 was marketed just to schools. I was convinced that the simplicity and distinctiveness of the iMac was exactly right for home users and at a price that would make it a consumer icon. I loved the concept, but the style was not really to my taste. It was ultimately a great design and taste is just a personal issue. Early ads that compared the serene iMac to a noisy PC tower were by far the most effective. Keep in mind that the current crop of $799 and $899 bargain basement PC’s still look the same as they did in those early iMac ads, except for changes in front panel colors. Most of the ones I see in homes have all the drive bays empty except for a floppy and CD/RW. They are typically hooked up to a low quality monitor and have the added bulk of external speakers making for an ungainly low quality appliance. I would create an ad that showed clips of a that 3 year old PC, the Bondi blue iMac, a current PC with the word “Progress?” followed by the LCD iMac “Progress!”

Apple needs more than 5% of the market to remain healthy, so sales volume ends up being important because it grows the user base. They need to sell a couple of new FireWire capable Macs for every future iPod they expect to sell. Hub software like iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iTunes, along with services like iTools help sell computers and the new retail stores are Apple’s most effective tool for expanding market share right now. The bottom line for these retail outlets doesn’t matter nearly as much as the exposure the products get. These stores help sell computers at other outlets, including online sales, mail order and authorized resellers. Having a standout product like the flat panel iMac for under $1,000 would make a big difference.

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