The iMac Channel

My Three iMacs

1999.09.29 - Dan Knight

Three iMacs?

Well, Apple's done it before. Despite the amazing success of the iMac, there always seem to be two previous versions available on the close-out and refurbished market.

But three different iMac models in production at the same time? What is Apple thinking?

The Specs

According to other sites (see Further Reading), there will be two basic models. Both will have a 100 MHz system board. Both will share a short-neck 15" monitor, making the next iMac a bit less bulk than the current one. Both will have 64 MB of memory, better sound, 2x AGP video, two separate USB buses, and a video port for an external monitor or projection device.

And they'll be AirPort ready.

The economy iMac will apparently run a 350 MHz G3, have a slot-loading CD-ROM drive (that's how most car CD players work), and include a 6 GB hard drive. Rumor is this model will only ship in blueberry. Expect a price of $999, making this the first sub-$1K (at introduction) Mac since the floppy-only 1 MB Mac Classic introduced in October 1990.

The deluxe iMac will have FireWire, a 4x DVD, a 400 MHz G3, a 10 GB hard drive, and be available in five fruity colors. Expect similar pricing to today's $1,199 Revision D iMac.

At the top of the heap, say these sites, will be a graphite, silver, and clear model to match the look of the Power Mac G4. It will also come with a whopping 128 MB of memory and a slightly larger (13 GB) hard drive. This model may be exclusive to the Apple Store.

Confusion?

Earlier rumors of up to five different configurations were quickly put to rest by those who reminded us that the iMac is simple (see Gilding the Lily for one example). Too many models with too many options destroys the simplicity of the iMac.

The three tier lineup looks like a winner. On the bottom, probably priced at $999, is the basic blueberry iMac. No extras. It's pretty much today's iMac in a new package.

For the serious Macophile, the better iMac offers DVD, a bit more horsepower, and a choice of colors. It will also help drive the FireWire market, which Apple must do before the USB 2.0 specification is finalized. This model will probably outsell the economy iMac 4:1.

And for the guy whose just got to be one up on everyone else, there's the unique graphite iMac - a premium computer at a premium price. This will be a cash cow for Apple, although it will only account for perhaps 5-10% of iMac sales.

Apple has a lot of experience with two- and three-tiered computers. For a while, the PowerBook G3 came in three different speeds and had three different screen options. That was too confusing. The current PowerBook only comes in two models. The Power Mac G3 was consistently available in three configurations, as is the Power Mac G4.

By offering good, better, and best, Apple answers the objection that there is no sub-$1K Mac - and gives customers a way to buy a better computer with no need for the dealer to install anything extra.

Further Reading

Mac Observer removed its article at Apple's request, so we have removed the link. AppleInsider's article has had its images removed "at Apple Legal's demand".

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