The iMac Channel

The iMac G4?

Dan Knight - 2000.02.10

I love it when a conjecture comes together!

Last September I mused that perhaps Apple would use the G4/350 processors Motorola was producing in the iMac, since that was too slow to use in the Power Mac G4.

A lot of people reminded me that it wouldn't happen with current export restrictions, but the US government is in the process of setting a higher power level for export restriction, improving Apple's ability to sell G4 Macs around the world.

That opens the way for a PowerBook G4 and an iMac G4. There's rampant speculation that Pismo, the next generation PowerBook, will be designed to accept a G4 processor, although Apple may not offer that option when Pismo is first released.

The other persistent rumor is a 17" iMac. I have a feeling that if Apple is to offer an iMac G4, it will have a 17" screen. Likewise, if Apple is to offer a 17" iMac, it will have a G4 available (possibly as a high-end model).

I just can't see putting the extra cost of the G4 processor (it adds $300 to $400) in a computer with a fixed 15" screen. Sure, it would help DVD playback immensely, but the people who are going to most benefit from the AltiVec enhancements run Photoshop and use larger screens.

MacUser (UK) speculates that Apple will offer an iMac G4 once the G4 shortage is behind everyone, which most sources put at somewhere around June 2000.

My guess is that Apple will continue to offer G3-based iMacs with 15" screens, since it can offer them for several hundred dollars less than G4 systems.

I'm also tempted to believe that Apple will not call the larger model an iMac, although it will be an all-in-one design obviously related to the iMac. Apple wants to keep the product line simple, but there would be so many differences between the G3 iMac and the larger 17" G4 computer that Apple will need to clearly differentiate this souped up model from the run-of-the-mill iMacs.

At the very least, Apple could go back to its history and resurrect one of two great product names: iMac Plus would share its name with the longest running model in Macintosh history, while iMac II would give homage to the venerable Apple II line and the Mac II, the first Mac with serious horsepower.

This is all conjecture, but I think the pieces fit together well. I hope the next iMac fits together as well as these theories.

Update: Apple introduced the eMac in April 2002, which is a 17" CRT-based G4 computer. This was three months after it introduced the 15" iMac G4, which was the first iMac with a flat panel display.

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