The Power of Mac

Is Apple to Blame or Not?

Eric Schwarz - 2001.07.24

This article was supposed to be about what you can do with first-generation Power Macs, but after the reaction to last week's Expo, I decided to postpone that.

After much thinking and researching, I realized something - this Expo may have seemed disappointing, but was it really?

After reading various grumblings on the Web and watching the Stevenote on QuickTime TV, it seems Apple's role in the Macworld Expo was a bit disappointing. People were complaining that the new G4 was just the old one with some modifications to the case. Others were complaining that the iMacs were just speed bumped instead of being redesigned. Others were complaining that most of the Stevenote was wasted on OS X. Should these people be complaining? Yes - and no.

Here's the thing: Apple's been releasing new computers at least once a year for each product line for the last few years. Right now they have pretty good designs for each line, so why change anything? Well, consumers (especially people on the Mac Web) have more or less been demanding new stuff, but maybe Apple's reverting to its old self (a.k.a. Apple from the early 1990s - see later in this article ).

People are complaining now about the G4 using the same basic case as its predecessor and the Blue and White G3. What's wrong with that? Apple had the IIcx back in 1989, reintroduced the same case with the IIci six months later, and then reintroduced it with the Quadra 700 two years after that. The lifetime of this case design (which wasn't perfect, either) was over three years.

The compact Mac case lasted for a good eight years, from 1984 through 1992. Did the fact that the SE used the same basic case design as the earlier Macs hurt the SE's sales? No. It actually helped its sales, since people saw the compact case as a symbol that represented the Mac. I think that Apple may be trying to do that again with keeping the iMac case and the G3/G4 drawbridge case.

The fact that Apple didn't release any really "new" computers at this Expo also shows that Apple may be slowing down. Now that the company's out of the red, it can keep designs longer instead of keep trying to impress people with new computers.

Also, Apple had to spend a lot of time showing off OS X at the Expo. OS X still isn't as popular as Apple wants - they want everyone to use it instead of 9.x and below. They want to show everyone that their favorite software will run on OS X now or in the near future.

I hate to say this, but it looks like OS X will be the only game in town in a few years. I'm guessing Classic (OS 9.x) is going to go the way of the Apple IIgs.

Another thing someone pointed out that I have to agree with - Apple has a niche market with DV, but they need to branch out. In the late 1980s Commodore had a niche market in video production with their Amigas, and look at the Amiga now - a very small share of the market. Do we want the Mac to become the next Amiga?

On the other hand, people should be complaining. Apple's New York expos have always been about new products. Apple has tended to ignore the calls for a flat-panel iMac or a very cheap Mac or some tweaks to the TiBook. Or maybe they're going to release them between Expos like they did the iceBook.

I'd like to sum up with this - Apple's Expo was okay. It could've been better, but they don't have to have new products at every expo. Just think back to when the older Macs were being produced - a design lasted a couple years without any changes. LEM

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