LCD iMac has dubious marketability

  • Posted: 15 July 2001 07:16 PM

    I would like to confront the current rumor of LCD iMacs in a practical marketplace. I admit that I was enamored with the idea of an LCD iMac at first. However, after thinking about it, quite frankly, I don’t believe it is possible. The idea of the iMac is to be an entry level computer. There is nothing entry level about LCD’s when it comes to desktops. I also remember Jobs saying at an analyst meeting several years ago that he would sell iMacs for $50 (or some other ludicrously low number) if he could. I firmly believe that the iMac will remain CRT based until flat panels become cheaper. However, there is too much buzz for some kind of Apple all-in-one not to exist. Remember all the rumors about a cube shaped computer before it debuted. I distinctly recall that everyone had their own take as to its purpose, yet the only thing they got right was the fact it was a cube.

    The following is my speculation for MWNY. Do not feel obligated to respond to it as I have already made my point. For God’s sake, please do not turn this into a speculation thread. Go to http://www.appleinsider.com instead. I only present my speculation as a justification and extrapolation of what I already stated. That said, I believe that Apple will strip down the iMac to its cheapest possible state and have only one or two models. Second, I believe that Apple will drastically reduce the number of PowerMacs to a few top of the line models for pro users only. This will open up the space in the middle for an LCD all-in-one (or most-in-one). Apple has tried to cover this space with high end iMacs and low end PowerMacs for business reasons. The computer would be marketed toward the networked, digital gamer. That is to say, advanced home users who not only want to surf the web, but also want to have a digital photo/music/movie collection and a powerful game station all in one. Here is where an integrated LCD design would work best. It could easily be set up with upgradeability in mind. It would need to start out with a G4, plenty of RAM, and plenty of HD space. These are features which only recently have become cheap enough to incorporate. Further, all the major components would need to be exchangeable with whatever is newer and better in the future. In other words, it would be the much sought after mid-range Mac.

    I have no insider sources nor do I care if I am right. I merely believe that an LCD iMac goes against the marketing philosophy Apple has built around this product. Instead a marketable solution would be to replace the Cube with a practicable, Cube-inspired product. A move such as this would also fully explain why Apple deep sixed the Cube (as if it was not already [luxuriously] redundant). It is also reasonable to assume because such a solution has only very recently become economically feasible for Apple.

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    Posted: 12 July 2001 11:00 PM #1

    Ha! I am going to respond anyway.

    Your thoughts are interesting, but there is one very compelling reason for a flat-panel iMac, and that is screen size.  The 15” iMac monitor, and calling it 15” is a stretch, is just way too small.  17” monitors are cheap and pretty much the norm today.

    So what to do? An iMac with a 17” CRT is too big and heavy.  Substitute an LCD, and it becomes manageable size-wise.  However, it then becomes too expensive, which is a point I willingly concede.

    We are back to “what to do?”  I am not sure, to be honest, but I do know that Gateway and Dell have both had a fairly low-priced LCD-based all-in-one on the market for the last year.  I say that, and a quick check through both of those companies’ really bad Web sites resulted in me not finding those models. 

    In any event, Apple has to offer a bigger screen on its consumer product.

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  • Posted: 13 July 2001 06:20 AM #2

    Sarcasticus,

    Have you ever played a game on an LCD? It sucks. No, let me rephrase that. IMHO it sucks.

    Unless there have been some great advances in refresh techniques in the LCD world, Unreal Tournament will continue to look like Unclear Tournament. Sure, slow turn-based games like War/Star Craft aren’t nearly as bad, but I don’t think Apple would succeed in marketing an LCD based computer to gamers.

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  • Posted: 13 July 2001 07:37 AM #3

    Brian: If you want, I can argue several reasons why LCD iMacs go against iMac marketing philosophy. One, should be cheap. Two, is marketed towards neophytes. Three, should be complete. In other words, it needs to compete with other computers in terms of price, ease-of-use, and finally it seeks to quash the idea that you need to upgrade your computer every six months. It is my opinion that iMac sales have slowed because Apple has not continued to pursue this market so much as expand it. In the end, everyone sees the iMac as a beginner’s computer no matter what Apple says. If LCDs were to replace CRTs in iMacs, what would replace the iMac?

    Oaf: Granted a game is not always as pretty. On the other hand, what about eyestrain? When I play a game several hours go by. By the end, my eyes are shot. Isn’t that one of the main selling points of LCDs? Also, I am very impressed with Apple’s LCDs. I have done simple eye comparisons at my local CompUSA and Apple beat the competition hands down. LCDs aren’t perfect, but Apple’s are pretty damn good.

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  • Posted: 13 July 2001 07:58 AM #4

    I doubt the and LCD iMac would replace the entire CRT iMac line. Going LCD would raise the price at least $300 a unit. iMac’s need to be cheap. Maybe they will introdue a high end LCD iMac in addition, but it would be foolishness to eliminate low end models.

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  • Posted: 13 July 2001 03:19 PM #5

    Today’s headline on TMO seems to add credibility to my argument. What do you think?

    http://www.macobserver.com/article/2001/07/13.12.shtml

    Price conscious iMacs, no Cube, One more thing . . .

    When it comes to personal computers, there are five categories, not four. Apple could not economically sustain five until last year. However, the idea of a luxury computer never took off. Why wouldn’t Apple try and correct this mistake? How hard would it be to build a Cube/PowerMac hybrid computer? Elegance with upgradeability, ease of use with a consumer price point. I want someone to prove me wrong, not provide anecdotal evidence.

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  • Posted: 15 July 2001 07:16 PM #6

    This is a great thread.

    Thanks!

    Dr. L