An iMac G4?

1999.09: Just last week Apple unveiled the Power Mac G4 in two versions and three speeds.

Power Mac G4 AGP SawtoothThe 400 MHz “Yikes!” Power Mac G4 uses a modified Yosemite (Blue and White Power Mac G3) motherboard, comes with a 10 GB hard drive, and sells for the same US$1,599 price as the 350 MHz Blue and White G3. The 450 and 500 MHz “Sawtooth” Power Mac G4 models use the new Sawtooth motherboard, which has two separate USB controllers, three FireWire ports, a faster memory architecture, and a 2x AGP slot for hyperfast video.

The Macintosh Guy is already running a Power Mac G4 List, which has grown to several hundred members. We’ve discussed just about every aspect of the nearly available 400 MHz Yikes! model and how it compares with the forthcoming Sawtooth machines.

One interesting revelation on the list: Motorola is making a 350 MHz G4 processor, but Apple isn’t building a 350 MHz Power Mac G4.

What’s up with that?

The rumor sites are already talking about a PowerBook G4 in the January-to-April time frame, but Motorola is building those 350 MHz G4 CPUs now.

Update: We didn’t get a PowerBook G4 until January 2001.

And only one of the four companies announcing G4 upgrades says it will make a 350 MHz card. Even if all four companies did, it probably wouldn’t make a dent in the supply of 350 MHz g4 processors that Motorola is making.

Let’s try to steal Apple’s thunder and speculate that the next iMac won’t run a G3 at 350 MHz or even 400 MHz. No, the improved iMac will have a 17″ screen and a 350 MHz G4 processor.

Following on the heels of the first personal computer to be classified as a supercomputer by the federal government, the iMac G4 will be the first consumer computer to fall under export restrictions.

In five fruity flavors.

Apple is making a concerted effort to share as much technology and as many components as possible between its four product lines. For the next iMac, this probably means:

  • a 100 MHz memory bus, just like Sawtooth
  • two independent USB controllers, just like Sawtooth
  • bootable USB, just like Sawtooth
  • one or two FireWire ports, down from three on Sawtooth
  • the same US$1,199 price tag as today’s 333 MHz iMac Rev. D

Apple Tanks adIf you’ve seen the Tank ad (download here), picture the possible ad for the new iMac G4. A tank drives behind a G4. The script is the same – until the end. Then, instead of the G4 being surrounded by five tanks, it is surrounded by five fruity G4 iMacs.

“The new iMac G4. The $1,200 supercomputer. Get your hands on one.”

After all, if Apple can sell a 400 MHz Power Mac G4 for the same price as a 350 MHz G3 machine, there seems no obstacle to replacing a 333 MHz iMac G3 with 350 MHz G4 version at the same price point.

At least that’s what I’m guessing Apple will unveil next, possibly at Apple Expo 99 in Paris later this month, as rumored on Think Secret.

Update: It seems Apple was a bit premature announcing the 500 MHz Power Mac G4 because Motorola was unable to build that speed in sufficient quantities for Apple to meet demand for the graphite supercomputer. So what did Apple do? I reduced the speed of each model by 50 MHz with no change in price. Yeah, nobody was happy about that one, but it did create a market for those 350 MHz G4 CPUs that didn’t yet have a home. I’m betting Apple negotiated a killer price on those chips!

As for speculation about a G4 iMac, the next generation of iMac – announced in October 1999 – was still a G3 machine, but with a 100 MHz system bus, slot-load optical drives, and VGA output. The “Kihei” iMac was available in 350 MHz with a CD-ROM drive or 400 MHz with DVD-ROM and FireWire. Prices started at $999. We had to wait until January 2002 for the iMac G4.

Further Reading

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