My Turn

Where's the iPizzaBox?

Alex Allee
2001.05.10

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

A few years ago, $899 would have been an amazing deal for a computer. But in a time of $400 PCs, $899 doesn't sound so great. Granted, for $400 you get no monitor, no technical support, and probably no software other than Windows installed on the hard drive. Add about a hundred bucks for a decent monitor, and you are set.

Enter the iLC

Apple needs a lower cost solution if they want to win any more market share. The solution? A new "pizza box" style computer that Macintosh LCwe'll call the iLC. The iLC would be about the size of the case used in the LC through the Quadra 605, but perhaps slightly taller to allow for a CD-ROM drive and room to have a PCI slot or two on a riser card.

Processor

A G3 processor of at least 333 MHz on a 66 MHz bus. This will give it enough power to do most things that a low-end user will need while keeping prices down. A lower speed would also keep the iLC from cutting into iMac sales.

Memory and Storage

64 MB of RAM soldered on the motherboard with one empty DIMM slot. 64 MB is likely enough for a lot of users, but the capability for up to 320 MB (or even 576 MB) is there. A 6 GB hard drive should be enough for all but the most hard-core MP3 junkies.

Ports

Two USB ports, one 10/100 ethernet connection, a 56k modem port, a microphone jack, and a headphone jack. Also a standard VGA connection, so a cheap VGA monitor can be purchased and can be upgraded to a larger screen. FireWire? Probably not. If you can afford a FireWire camera, camcorder, scanner, etc., then you can likely afford an iMac.

Price

Given the specs above, I would expect a base price of $400-450. This would make the iLC very competitive with entry-level PCs.

Look out, Education market, here comes Apple!

Not only would the iLC be a great first computer, it would do great in the formerly Apple-dominated education market. Does a classroom really need accelerated 3D graphics, six PCI slots, a 30 GB hard drive, a 19" display, and Windows 2000? No. The iLC would have all that a classroom would need - and nothing that it wouldn't. With such a low price, it would also be ideal for cash-strapped college students.

With an attractive case, a low price, and an aggressive ad campaign designed to show people that web browsing, email, and word processing do not need a gigahertz chip or Microsoft Windows, and some luck, Apple may be able to take a larger slice of the beginner and education pie.

And if the iLC doesn't work out, there is always the rumored SAM/iClassic/Color Classic III.

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