Apple to Reintroduce Power Mac G3

1999 – No, it won’t be blueberry this time.

The Rumor Mill

Yosemite designIt’s less than a year since Apple introduced the Power Macintosh G3. No, not the beige one. The blue and white one.

Do you think the company that wants us to Think Different could get a bit more creative with product names? They certainly have creative enough code names.

Whatever. That model was dropped like a hot potato on August 31, the day Apple introduced the Power Macintosh G4 – or maybe I should say, the two different models both called the Power Macintosh G4.

One, code named Yikes!, put a 400 MHz G4 on a modified Yosemite (the creative code name for the Blue & White G3) motherboard. That’s the model that was dropped to 350 MHz on October 13, and discontinued on December 1.

Talk about short product life – six weeks for the original 400 MHz Yikes!, then six weeks for the first 350 MHz one!

The other G4, code named Sawtooth, started out at 450 MHz, to be followed by a 500 MHz model whenever Motorola could get around to providing enough 500 MHz G4 processors. On October 13, Apple dropped the 400 MHz Yikes! to 350 MHz and replaced it with a more expensive 400 MHz model using the Sawtooth motherboard. (Are you confused yet?)

Then, on December 1, they replaced the 350 MHz Yikes! with a 350 MHz Sawtooth.

At least they left the price the same this time, while adding dual USB, FireWire, and DVD to the entry-level Power Mac.

A Semi-Supercomputer

But there’s a problem: Because the US government classifies the G4 as a supercomputer (a wimpy supercomputer, since these standards were created years ago, but still a supercomputer by the government’s lame definition of the term), there are certain markets where Apple can’t sell it.

Apple Tanks adRemember the Tanks ad? The main point was the power of the Power Mac G4, but the subtext was, “Yanks and friendly powers can buy it, but the bad guys can’t.”

Frankly, the export restriction has been bothering Steve Jobs. If he can’t overthrow the Wintel cartel, he at least wants to sell Macs in as many markets as he can. (Ignore those article from MacWeek about availability and support problems in several markets. Steve knows which markets really count.)

So what can Saddam, Fidel, and others do if the iMac DV or PowerBook G3 (the current one code-named Lombard, not the earlier models that shared that name) isn’t enough computer?

They could probably smuggle in G4s along with an arms shipment, or maybe drug cartels could start gray marketing G4s to markets where the State Department says, “Thou shalt not sell supercomputers.”

Or they could gobble up the remaining inventory of G3s and see if it’s possible to buy G4 upgrades for them. (If the G4 computers are illegal for export to those markets, does the same thing apply to the G4 processor itself? My guess is that it does.)

Now you’ve got to remember that IBM and Motorola still make the G3 processor. It’s being used in the iMac, iBook, and PowerBook.

Putting one and one together, Steve Jobs realizes that Apple can legally sell G3 systems to export-restricted markets. But he’s run out of the motherboards to do it, not to mention the brightly colored blue-and-white case the G3 came in (the second G3, not the beige one).

Thumbing his nose at authority, but not quite willing to fly the pirate flag in Cupertino again, Jobs will quietly introduce the Stealth G3. It will come in exactly the same case as the Blue G4 and current G4, but with a new color scheme: camouflage.

That’s right, the new Power Mac G3 (believe me, they won’t be changing that name) will come in nature’s own tans and greens. It will look equally at home in the dorm room in the bunker.

But that’s inconsequential. The really cool thing is that this will be the first G3 based on the Sawtooth motherboard. Speeds should be in the 450-550 MHz range. When (not if) the State Department comes up with a more realistic definition of a supercomputer, Apple will offer G4 upgrade modules for these machines.

We’ll just have to hope these hostile powers don’t manage to sneak in third-party G4 upgrades before then.

 – Anne Onymus

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