Beyond Bondi

1999: Apple unleashed the iMac 266 in five fruity flavors last week. Besides yellow (lemon? banana?), the only significant color missing was Bondi Blue, the color of the original iMac.

blueberry, grape, tangerine, lime, and strawberry imacsIs the color we embraced last August already passé?

Personally, I don’t consider Bondi Blue to be an eye-catching color like Strawberry, Lime, or Tangerine. It’s attractive, but not in a glaring way like most of the new iMac colors.

In fact, it looks quite comfortable in the workplace, especially with the color scheme of our offices (off white and dark green).

So why the gloriously gaudy colors? Maybe to help keep the iMac out of the workplace and sell more Power Macs.

It’s as good an explanation as any.

Three Steps Forward

The 266 MHz iMac Revision C offers more speed and a larger hard drive than the original. For the extra $150-200 over the Revision B, it’s an exceptional value. And you finally have a choice of colors.

Two Steps Back

Apple actually managed to offer more speed and storage space at a lower price by eliminating two features of the original iMac: infrared (IrDA) networking and the mezzanine slot.

IrDA might have caught on, especially since the PowerBooks already support it. Wireless networking at 40% the speed of 10Base-T ethernet is a very nice feature. But it’s gone, and there’s no uproar over its absence.

I wonder if there’s a market for an add-on IrDA device for the iMac similar to Farallon’s AirDock for LocalTalk devices.

IrDA was a neat thing, but it never generated the interest that the mezzanine slot did. Thanks to that “unsupported” connector, it would be possible to add SCSI, LocalTalk, video, ADB, and other ports to the iMac without a USB adapter. And then came the Game Wizard Voodoo 2 graphics accelerator for game players.

Without the mezzanine slot in the new iMac, the potential market for mezzanine cards is limited to the size of the 233 MHz iMac’s production run.

Recommendation: If the mezzanine slot is something you might use and you don’t already own an iMac, seriously consider picking up the Bondi model while supplies last. Apple may never bring the mezzanine slot back.

But I hope there will be an outcry from the Macintosh community, a petition drive to bring back the iMac’s one and only expansion slot.

Interesting that the first Macs had no expansion slots, then Apple added them, but with the iMac they had one, and then they removed it.

There may be other factors involved, such as the size of the power supply and cost of the connector, but I think most of us would gladly pay $50 more for a mezzanine equipped iMac.

Good-bye, Good Buy

The iMac 233’s days are numbered. They have to be: Apple can only make so many computers. At the rate they built iMacs, that’s about 2,000,000 per year, leaving just enough production capacity for about 1,000,000 PowerBooks and Power Macs. (These are just educated guesses, but they are in the ballpark.)

So unless Apple builds another factory or outsources manufacturing, the current inventory of the Bondi iMac is all there’s ever going to be.

Buy ’em while they’re cheap.

Beyond Bondi

The people who have to be the most frustrated with the new iMac color scheme have got to be the companies that have Bondi-and-Ice iMac peripherals. How good will they look with a Grape or Blueberry iMac?

They’ll have to rethink marketing quickly. Offer peripherals in Bondi plus five new colors? Ignore the new colors and hope Bondi won’t look too out of place? Pick one of the new colors and run with it?

Most likely, we’ll see several trends. On small, relatively inexpensive items or products with large markets, we’ll see them available in all the colors. On several of these items, its only one or two pieces of plastic that would have to be changed.

Some manufacturers will offer color upgrade kits, much as Kensington did with balls for its Turbo Mouse trackball. Buy the mouse, hub, or whatever, send in $15 with an enclosed coupon, and get replacement parts in colors to match your iMac.

And some manufacturers will get creative. Their iMac peripherals will abandon Bondi and Lime in favor of gray, ice, and black – or go the opposite extreme and incorporate several different colors in a manner designed to complement any iMac.

I’d hate to be the one who bet the company on Bondi peripherals, but I think peripheral manufacturers will respond quickly with new color schemes for the new iMacs.

And then there’s the blue and white of the new Power Mac G3….

keywords: #imacrevc