My fellow Americans, this being an election year, Iive decided to run for a public office. The office I seek doesnit exist yet, but in my sometimes strange world, it should. Whatis the name of the office that doesnit exist, but should, and Iim running for?
Chief Bubba of the National Headless iMac Committee.
If Iim elected I will personally ensure that every American who wants one gets a powerful, relatively inexpensive headless iMac. I will personally hold Steve Jobs accountable for ignoring the cries of thousands, nay, millions of Mac users begging for a headless iMac. I will make it my solemn mission for as long as I hold the office of CBNHiC to help raise the Mac marketshare by promoting the heck out of the headless iMac ? a job I believe would be easy ? for I firmly believe that PC users would flock to Apple Stores and lay down their hard-earned dollars to buy such an iMac.
I donit just want Apple to lob the cool lamp-like monitor off existing iMacs and call it a day. No! What I seek is something more practical, more enduring, and thus more attractive to the average PC-using Joe or Jill.
Hereis what Iim thinking:
Design a chassis around the same idea Apple uses for OS X; create a solid base that allows users to add parts as needed. This chassis would consist of a state-of-the-art bus, like the HyperTransport architecture introduced in the G5 Macs and G5 Xserves. This chassis would run the latest and fastest G4 processor, in both single and dual configurations (which would keep the cost down while offering reasonably good speed ? this is a consumer desktop after all.) The chassis may even be in the physical configuration reminiscent of Appleis ill-fated G4 Cube, updated to allow easy access to the drive, graphics card, and memory slots. Also, this chassis would accept PCMCIA cards, and media cards (like Compact Flash and SD Media) in a special, easily-accessible bay.
Speaking of cards, the list of acceptable parts and cards should be approved by Apple. Warranty would cover the chassis and any parts that Apple added at the time of purchase. User-added approved parts and cards would not void the warranty, but adding non-Apple approved parts and cards would. Users could do so at their own risk.
What parts could users add? Pretty much everything: Hard drives, memory, graphics cards, additional I/O cards, you name it. Apple can keep a tight reign on which parts are allowed to ensure a good user experience. Parts vendors would be happy because now they can sell to a growing Mac market as well.
Apple could keep selling current iMac and eMac configurations for those who want them, or, once the market for Headless iMacs takes off ? and it will ? iMac buyers can simply opt for a fully configured headless iMac.
At what cost?
A basic chassis ? which would consist of a single G4 1.5 GHz processor, 60 GB hard drive, an average graphic card, wired networking, USB 2.0, 256 MB of RAM, OS X, and a nice suite of software ? would sell for US$500 through US$600. For US$900 you would get a fully configured basic model which would also include a 15" or 17" LCD monitor, standard 3 button mouse, speakers, and possibly an upgraded memory and/or hard drive.
A basic dual processor headless iMac (without a monitor, speakers, etc.) could cost US$1000 and add an upgraded graphics card, more memory, a larger hard drive, wireless networking, and FireWire 800.
My friends, these headless iMac configurations would exist to do one thing, and one thing only: to put Macs on more desktops, thus increasing market share.
Does market share matter?
Of course it matters! While numbers of Mac desktops are increasing, the rate of increase is not high enough. The likes of Dell and HP all but swamp Apple when it comes to the numbers game. And numbers are important, of course, because with higher numbers comes more clout; clout with hardware and software developers weighing development costs versus returns on investment, clout with IT managers looking for Windows alternatives, and clout with the average PC-using Joe or Jill who wants assurance that Apple wonit fold in a year or two.
The numbers donit have to be high. 5 to 10 percent of the desktop market would suffice. Apple just needs to establish itself as more than an innovative marketer of cool products ? it needs to prove that it is relevant outside of perceived niche markets.
Innovations or Commodity?
The headless iMac Iim proposing would enhance Appleis image as the innovation leader in the computing world. By designing a cool, adaptable chassis that uses state of the art industry standards, then selling it for a competitive price would not only impress the press and analysts, but other computer makers as well.
Apple wonit outsell Dell or HP. Apple doesnit have to. Apple simply needs to broaden its audience. It will still be purveyors of classy, extremely useable computers. Macs will still cost more than PCs in general. There is no way Apple could ? or should ? compete with Dell on cost, but the gap will have narrowed a bit, making the transition from PCs to Macs far more palatable to those considering it.
Macs wonit become commodities like so many bags of potato chips; Macs will become the must have for dorm rooms, studies, and corporate desktops where work merges with style.
This, my friends, is my platform. If elected I vow to push this agenda with every fiber of my political being.
"A Mac doesnit need to have a head to have a heart." Thatis my motto. So this November, remember to vote for me ? Vern Seward, Chief Bubba ? and together we can make it happen.
(Paid for by the Group-of-Guys-Who-Really-Want-a-Headless-iMac-and-Will-do-Anything-to-Get-it-Action Committee.)