The Devil's Advocate - iMac Designs Do's & Don'ts: Don't Mix Pyramids and Snakes
- September 2nd, 2004
Images from Apple's design patent
The Pyramid Snake iMac--no, it's not a joke. On August 31, 2004, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USTPO) issued United States Patent Number D495,332 to Apple Computer, Inc. for a "Display device with a moveable assembly," which was filed on October 3, 2003. This is a division of an application first filed on November 8, 2001.
The other thing you should get from the above design is a big sigh of relief that Apple didn't go down the road of employing varying wacky shapes and neck styles to differentiate its iMacs. The new iMac is a big improvement over the previous design, at least as far as aesthetics go. Personally I wish the entry level machine cost $999, had a better graphics card (the graphics card Apple included stinks), and included a video input.
Then again, I also wish I would get paid for my good looks, but the reality is I'd starve.
Had Apple included a video input port, it could have addressed one of the biggest draw-backs to an all-in-one computer design. Namely, with an all-in-one computer you pay for and then have to dispense a perfectly good screen when the computer's CPU becomes dated. This is a particular shame with the 20" iMac; it's screen is stunning and should still be of use far after the iMac's 1.8GHz G5 processor becomes dated. If Apple simply included a DVI input on the iMac, then you could plug the iMac into a future PowerMac and use it as a display.
Anyway, I think one thing has become clear regarding the iMac. It's no longer "for the rest of us." The original iMac was designed to be the Volkswagen of the computer world. The computer that everyone could afford. It was very price point and feature-for-price competitive with the mid-range computer systems of its day. Today, a mid-range family computer goes for around $700-800. And you get a surprisingly capable machine at that price point--heck, dual layer DVD burners go for less than $100 these days, so it's really no surprise. The iMac no longer competes in the general mid-range price point. Today, its price point is up in the "upper-middle-class" bracket.
As such, the task of shoring up the low-to-mid-range has been passed on to the eMac, which quite honestly, is too long in the tooth to be compelling. With the iMac now filling in the upper-middle-class-range and the eMac failing to captivate enough buyers in the mid-range to improve Apple's market share, Apple really has to come up with a new machine.
Well, it does if it wants to gain some market share.
And for those of you that believe market share is irrelevant, let me put it to you plainly. You're wrong. It's important. In the computer field market share is key. There will be some critical market share value so low that software developers will stop writing and/or supporting Mac software. Currently, Apple holds about 2% of the global PC market and is doing quite well. Maybe that critical low-point is 1.5%. Maybe it's 1%. Maybe it's at 0.5%. Most definitely at 0%, you'll have a problem. The frightening thing is there isn't too much wiggle room between Apple's 2% market share of today and the clear death of a market at 0%.
Apple needs a mid-to-low-end machine to drive sales like the original iMac. This iMac ain't it. A new headless eMac at $499 could fit the bill--an (e)conomy Mac. The question is will Apple continue to ignore the great big pink elephant (of dwindling market share) in the room or do something about it and provide a more economical and compelling entry-level machine? Let's hope Apple thinks of something better than the Pyramid Snake iMac.
is an attorney. Please don't hold that against him. This work does not necessarily reflect the views and/or opinions of The Mac Observer, any third parties, or even John for that matter. No assertions of fact are being made, but rather the reader is simply asked to consider the possibilities.
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