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27:aug//2K - apple

27-08-2K:Well then, Apple have been busy haven't they? All those new systems - the iMac's, the dual G4's and the Cube, good for them or is it?

You see when it comes to Apple you can never really tell - it could be the best thing sliced bread or it could be the biggest mess up since I spilt the milk delivery all over the shop floor this morning, anyway...

Lets start with the new range of iMac's. When Apple first released the original blue one two years ago it was very cool (even if it did have a rubbish mouse and laptop CD-ROM drive), it catered exactly to a market that just wasn't covered before - those who wanted a computer without any hassle. I actually considered buying one, not because of the hassle free computing thing but because it looked cool - a fair enough reason if you ask me.

Then they updated the iMac with the five "flavoured" ones, which were all the same except you could choose your favourite colour. That was a good move, gave all those people who wanted it for their new living room the chance to selected the closest match. However, it all then went wrong with the release of the 3rd generation which came in three different models - standard, DV and DV+

This time the differing colours weren't just for show, they actually meant something but also removed the nice choice Apple had given with the second generation. The iMac was supposed to be a computer without hassle but if you ask me three different spec levels is a lot of hassle when you know nothing about computers. By doing this Apple removed the only reason these people would buy Mac over PC - the lack of confusion and it has all been downhill for the iMac since.

The new range has four different spec levels - even more confusing that before and totally removing the iMac from its original target audience. However, there are a few more problems; the new colours are just plain rubbish. Who in god's name wants a sage or ruby one? The worst colours ever, next they will be bringing out a brown iMac. The Blue one is cool, but is the lowest spec model, so who would want that (unless you can't afford a better one)? The top of the range Snow model is not very interesting either, the Graphite model is the best but not everyone will want a grey computer.

However, the major problem is it is just looking old, it was cutting edge two years ago but is just ordinary now. Fashions change, imagine if clothing retailers were like that? They wouldn't sell very much new stuff would they? - we'd all stick with our clothes from 1998 (unless we actually needed new clothes, obviously). It needs a redesign bad, otherwise it'll be bye, bye iMac very soon. Oh and while they are at it, they should upgrade the monitor to 17 inches - it is basically the standard now.

I'll leave the dual G4's alone, since they are aimed at Photoshop guru's with too much money - so good luck to Apple flogging them.

Now, the Cube thing - any ideas? Looks fantastic doesn't it? What is it for? I haven't a clue, it just confuses the market for me. Before you were either a computer idiot, in which case you bought an iMac or you weren't and you went for a G4.

The cube is basically a cut down G4, with one processor and no PCI slots (nice one Apple) but which still needs an external monitor that works with the new Apple monitor cable thing (one from Apple's own, expensive, range in other words). Who the hell would wanna buy that? Your average iMac punter isn't going to shell out that kinda money and then the G4 crowd won't either cause of the lack of expansion options.

What you have is a nice piece of kit with no home - it will be busking down the street next to the Apple Newton in no time. It is like one of those prototype cars you see at motor shows, nice ideas but ones which are never going to go into production. Unfortunately Apple seem to have forgotten that rule.

What will all of this cause? consumer confusion that's what and when someone is confused they are likely to ask someone for help and I'm pretty sure Mr. Gates is ready and willing to help them out.



The above is a personal opinion and should not be taken as that of WM.V2 or any of its other staff.

//agi. []