Servers, Laptops, Desktops and Cubes

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Date: Wednesday, December 11th, 2002, 01:00
Category: Archive

Apple has made a serious foray into the server market with its Unix based OS X and gorgeous Xserve rack-mountable server hardware. Price/performance are already quite good, especially looking at the licensing scheme. All that is needed is a switch to IBM processors and Apple is positioned for nothing but growth in this sector.

The PowerBook and iBook are great designs. The laptop share of the PC market is growing and Apple has compelling products that recognized the importance of wireless networking early on. While Apple cannot rest on its laurels here, they are certainly well positioned.

In the realm of desktop computers, Apple is floundering. The i and eMacs are fine. Both the LCD and CRT all-in-one Macs are about packaging. The iApps that really help to sell these products to consumers, but prices need to drop even more for education.

But, the desktop tower computer is really faltering for Apple. Here, raw power is most important and Apple has fallen woefully behind. The appeal of OS X has also been blunted by the lateness of key software to move there. Photoshop was late, but QuarkXPress and even my PowerCADD 2000 drafting software aren’t there yet.

While the processor dilemma has been debated ad infinitum, I suggest Apple start with the ancient box that houses their tower machines. At least they finally added the ability to have two optical drives, so why not build the bulk of machines with both a DVD recordable drive and a CD-RW. I suspect this would be cheaper than a super drive and in the low end machines, why not a just a basic DVD non-recordable and a CD-RW instead of a combo. Sure, Apple might take some flack from the recording and software industry since people can so easily pop a CD into one drive and record it from the other, but these drives would also be faster than the jack-of-all-trades combo and super drives.

It seems obvious to me that Apple of all companies should question the whole form factor of the tower PC. I have called in the past, for a floor mounted computer from Apple. No removable drives in the box, just PCI slots and HDs. Put it where you want. Have any removables you need on your desktop via Firewire. With USB ports in the monitor and additional Firewire/USB ports with the removable drives on your desk, what could be more convenient? Such a move would at least pave the way for a comeback once Apple fixes the performance problem. I see this floor mounted computer styled like the current server only, shaped like a (gasp!) cube. Package it to sit on the floor, mount to the underside of a desk or sit on top of a desk. User’s choice.

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