Cube: The Great Experiment

  • Posted: 21 July 2001 12:51 AM

    When I first saw the G4 Cube I wanted one. Not because it looked great, or because its small, or because it was a G4, but because I needed a quiet computer to replace my still aging 6100. (Ok, maybe because it is good looking and small and a G4,  but I still needed a replacement for my aging 6100.) I’ve only recently bought one, about 3 weeks ago. Now the announcement of its demise. Who said timing isn’t everything?

    I haven’t had a chance to play with my Cube as much as I want, it came with a noisey drive and a monitor that prefers red or green, so it was in the shop. Now I’m away from home and I won’t be able to get to it for a few more weeks. (Life is cruel.) But the few short days I did play with the Cube has taught me a few things about Apple products, in general, and the Cube in particular.

    First, Apple makes quality products. Ok, that’s not news to many of you, but if you deal with products from other computer makers you’d see what I mean and why I make this statement. The Cube exudes quality (if you don’t count my noisey drive). Pick up a Cube and it feels solid. Turn it over and pull out the guts and it gives you a feeling that this is no ordinary PC. All Apple products gives this feeling, but nowhere is it more apparent than in the Cube.

    Second, Apple makes cool products. Yeah, you’ve heard this before too, but hold on. Find any PC on the market today that equals the Cube’s ability to stop people in their tracks just by looks and I’ll kiss you. Don’t worry, you’re safe because there is no such animal. The Cube looks like a work of art. It invites you to touch it, to walk around it, to want to know more about it. Apple did the same thing on a different scale with the iMac, but the Cube invites a diferent type of onlooker. Whereas the iMac elicited words like “wow” and “neat”, the Cube gets “Oh!” and “beautiful!” People want it just because it’s great to look at. 

    Third and last (I could go on, but I do have to work), Apple products works. Again, you’ve heard this before, but nowhere is this concept demonstrated better than on the Cube. I plug in a monitor, network cable, keyboard and mouse, then power and BAM! I am up. When the Cube goes to sleep it pulses, click the mouse and 30 seconds later I’m back to work. The Cube’s insides are easy to get at, a breeze to upgrade, and simple to button up. The iMac is the only thing easier to use, but not nearly as fun. Even with a contrary monitor and a whining drive, my Cube was just chugging away playing movies, burning CDs (external CDRW), surfing the Net. I turned it off only to install memory, rebooted only to switch OSes (9 to X and back) and never had problems doing anything from installing software to playing Oni. Yes, iMacs and minitowers do the same thing, but not with the flare the Cube provides. (There are two iMacs in my home, so I know what I’m saying.)

    I hope Apple uses the Cube for lessons learned and produce something along the same lines. It was an experiment that got results. Maybe not the profits Apple had hoped, but it did show that people do appreciate quality and cool in a product. I hope Apple sees the Cube as a success and capitalize from it. I suppose they already are. The TiBook borrows heavily from the Cube, and I believe the new iMacs will too. So the Cube may be dead, but its legacy will live on in other products. I just hope those products can fill an 8x8x16 inch shoe.

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: VSeward on 2001-07-19 11:52 ]</font>


    "If only you could have seen what I’ve seen with your eyes." Roy, Blade Runner

    Vern Seward

  • Posted: 05 July 2001 10:39 AM #1

    I have to agree that the Cube’s official passing is a sad event.

    I just purchased a refurbished Cube/450 for $1000 for a client who usually picks up G4/400s for $1200 and could kick myself for not considering the Cube on their earlier purchases.  It’s a great machine.

    Anyone who’s on the fence about getting a G4, take a close look at the closeout prices of the Cube, you may be pleased with what you find.  If you can live with the included ATI video cards, don’t need dual monitors or high-end audio the Cube will fill your needs.  I’d also consider it for use as a file-server for a small office.  If I had $1500 spare cash, I’d grab a cube and a 15” Cinema Display to put in my living room as a home file/internet server!

    Ah, Cube, we hardly knew ye…


    A man who finds himself in an empty room…
    is alone. - DL

  • Posted: 05 July 2001 10:44 AM #2

    See, I should agree with you, but there’s one small problem: not many people bought the Cube.

    No matter how well designed, well packaged, or brilliant the computer (I think it was all of the above, btw), it didn’t sell. And it’s hard to argue for a computer that’s like the cube when the cube didn’t sell.

    It really is a pity.


    —Ricky Spero
    Anchor, The Apple Weekly Report
    The Mac Observer

  • Posted: 05 July 2001 12:26 PM #3

    Actually, Ricky, a lot of people DID buy the Cube, just not enough quick enough to make it a best seller. I did Apple Demo Days when the Cube was first introduced. Everybody liked it, but few could see themselves paying the extra money for such leading edge technology. Those that bought the Cube really liked them. I know, I’m one of them.

    Unfortunately, Apple cannot keep producing a unit that only sells a few hundred a month ( maybe more, I don’t know the figures). I can’t blame Apple for stopping production, and I’m glad to have had the chance to own one.

    But the technology and design work that went into the Cube is where Apple is reaping real profit. Imagine if Apple stuck with the iMac design philosophy and carried over to the new Power Book. The TiBook is an obvious sibling of the Cube, so is the iBook. Both of these units are selling like hotcakes in IHOP. All because of the Cube.

    Apple also got much needed ( and some unneeded) exposure because of the Cube. In all, I believe the Cube was a success, just not the kind of success that could keep it around.


    "If only you could have seen what I’ve seen with your eyes." Roy, Blade Runner

    Vern Seward

  • Posted: 12 July 2001 05:19 AM #4

    Talk about a case of too little, too late -ZDNet just reported that stores that haven’t been able to sell a Cube in weeks are suddenly disappearing.  The Virginia store sold out in two days, and apparently there’s been a rush at eBay.

    The story:,4586,5093999,00.html


    Evil® takes many forms. Please submit them promptly, in triplicate.

  • Posted: 13 July 2001 12:40 PM #5

    The current rush is no doubt due to the announcement itself. Seems people are thinking the cube will be a collector’s item. Could be, we’ll see. In other words, I think that if Apple would still be making the cube, they would still be sitting on the shelves in Virginia.


    Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

  • Posted: 18 July 2001 06:50 PM #6

    So, anyone know where you can buy a cube at a good price?

  • Posted: 21 July 2001 12:51 AM #7

    Gee, I don’t know now. It use to be that you could find them anywhere, but now they are nearly as scarce as hen’s teeth. I’d try the local Circuit City.


    "If only you could have seen what I’ve seen with your eyes." Roy, Blade Runner

    Vern Seward