Mac Scope

Bring Back Beige

Stephen Van Esch - Oct. 11, 2000

The buzz in building around Mac OS X. If early signs are any indication, OS X will be the hit Apple hopes it will be.

A good indicator of the popularity of the new operating system is the demand from the Wintel side to have OS X ported to their hardware of choice. With this demand, Apple has a real opportunity to make deep inroads into Windows territory.

Apple won't, of course, port OS X to Intel. Too much of Apple's profit relies on hardware sales. Granted, if demand was great enough and Apple felt that they could compete strictly as a software company, OS X would likely be ported to Intel, and poor old Bill Gates' biggest nightmare would come true.

Barring that, Apple should seriously consider releasing a plain old beige box that is easily expandable and upgradeable. They will still sell the boxes, but at a cut-rate price.

This would meet the OS X on Wintel crowd halfway. They don't want to shell out for an iMac that lacks the upgradability that geeks so love. They also don't want to shell out bigger bucks for the roomy and sleek G4 tower. Why not introduce a low-cost, boring, beige box. No monitor, no fancy widgets, just beige plainness with plenty of space for upgrades the Wintel (and face it, Mac) crowd so loves.

The OS X on Intel crowd would, of course, still have to buy Apple iron, but at least the cost would be so greatly reduced that they wouldn't have to spend a lot to get a decent Mac. They could salvage their monitors and be off to the races.

Take my computer, for example. The Power Computing PowerCenter Pro 210, with scads of bays and slots, is just what the OS X on Wintel lovers want. Put some decent Apple parts in it, slap a $999-1,199 price tag on it, and I think they would sell pretty darn well. Apple sells hardware; the OS X on Intel crowd gets OS X.

Drawbacks, of course, abound. OS X on Intel is exactly that: users who want to run OS X on their existing hardware. I guess it all comes down to how much they're willing to give to get on the OS X bandwagon. They're not willing to buy iMacs or G4s. A cheap beige box might fit the bill nicely, though.

Heck, that machine might even be a hit with the current Mac-lovin' crowd.

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