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Power Mac G4 Cube 'Special Edition' -- Hey, It Could Happen!

Power Mac G4 Cube 'Special Edition' -- Hey, It Could Happen!

by , 9:00 AM EDT, August 27th, 2001

"Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."

George S. Patton (1885-1945)

As a long-time Mac aficionado and a year-long Cube owner, I've been wholly silent about the demise of Apple Computer's G4 Cube, mainly because I am a Mac snob, and, for selfish reasons, see nothing wrong with the decision to kill the product.

Everyone loved it, but hardly anyone bought it. Higher-than-necessary pricing and miscued marketing doomed this epitome of computerized sexiness to a niche status that Apple's eleventh-hour price slashing and upgrades failed miserably to rectify. The machine still garnered a grand following, but, alas and alack, it is now relegated to the Museum of Modern Art -- which isn't anything to sneeze at.

I'm sure that I was one of the first to own one. There's just something about a super-quiet computer (it has no fan) that is just as much a joy to look at as it is to use. It's not everyday that you can find a computer that belongs on a living room coffee table, instead of some dark corner of your study.

With Apple's decision to put the Cube to pasture, I find myself in the enviable possession of a collector's item. I like the fact that I am one of a very few people fortunate enough to own one. I didn't want everyone to have a Cube anyway, the same way I imagine that some BMW owners probably wouldn't want everyone to own a "Beemer." That would be the equivalent of taking the "status" out of "status car." Ditto for the "wrong people" moving into our exclusive neighborhoods, "those people" attending our schools and "those people" marrying our daughters and sons.

But, I don't think Apple should create a landfill with those surplus Cubes just yet, á la the fate of another failed Apple computer.

There is another solution to the G4 Cube: bring it back, Apple -- maybe revamped, maybe not -- as a truly Special Edition. Apple should (re)release the Cube, from the outset, telling people that it will be produced in a limited run. (Actually, Apple can keep producing the reincarnated Cube for as long as there are people wanting to buy it, but hey, marketing isn't necessarily truth.) I merely have anecdotal reasons why this should be done: as soon as the Cube was end-of-lifed, people began coming to the computer store I work, asking for the Cube. Disappearance makes the heart grow fonder, I guess. I think the market for the Cube is bigger than Apple realizes. It just needs back-to-the-drawing-board advertising and marketing to push it.

Apple has created many products that were merely ahead of their time, like the Newton (but I won't go there). The only problem with the Cube, IMO, was Apple's marketing (stage whisper: and the pricing). The design costs have already been written off, so Apple can afford now to reduce the price to $999, marketing and selling it as the aforementioned limited run.

When the time is right (your guess is as good as mine), this would -- dare I say it? -- be an insanely great idea.

Furthermore, Apple could start a whole new line, titled the "Special Edition Series." Car manufacturers do it all of the time. In this case, Apple wouldn't limit it to the Cube. Apple could make this new product line the aegis for the iBook SE, the iMac SE and the Power Mac SE, along with any other products that come down the pike and don't fit into that four-quadrant grid.

As I write this, I sit here in front of my 15-inch flat-panel display and Cube, appreciating the fact that aesthetics really do make a difference in my computing experience, regardless of what the Beige Bandits have to say. This in itself is evidence that designs like the Cube shouldn't be abandoned without reconsideration.

I'm confident that the Cube failure has left Apple undeterred in its quest to make computing a more fashionable and visually pleasing experience, so even if the Cube doesn't resurface, there will surely be something else coming along from Apple that will make us forget the Cube or merely wonder "what if?" Future industrial designs from the Cupertino House of Ideas will undoubtedly continue to amaze and capture the imagination of the Mac world (and the competition).

I just hope that Apple doesn't become too conservative in its new designs. It would be a shame. For us Mac users and for the rest of the computer industry. God knows that we can't depend on Dell and IBM to cut the edge. After all, nothing ever became of Intel's insistence that PC makers create the future computer today -- if you remember that story.

Rodney O. Lain has no style. He fervently believes that the Afro will make a major comeback. His redeeming trait is that he thinks movie director Kevin "Silent Bob" Smith is a cinematic god. Rodney is a regular contributor to The Mac Observer with his "iBrotha" column. He lives in Minnesota, where Smith's "Mall Rats" was filmed :-)

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