The 1.7 GHz G4: Apple Should Market the G4 by ‘Pentium Equivalent’ MHz

In this business you either sink or swim or you don’t.
– David Smith

The gambling known as business looks with austere disfavor upon the business known as gambling.
– Ambrose Bierce

Things Macintosh

Sawtooth Power Mac G4When Apple introduced the Power Mac G4 (technically, it was when Apple introduced the G4 commercials) you could almost see final nails being hammered into the coffin of the megahertz war between the PowerPC and the x86 Wintel processors.

Then, last week’s G4 price-change “incident” (see Apple’s PR Waterloo, MacWeek) pulled several of the nails back out, releasing the not-really-dead corpse and an associated can of worms.

The can of worms is this: The Mac is behind the PC in terms of megahertz, and the 500 MHz G4 would have helped close the gap. But, on second thought, even a 500 MHz G4 would not mean much to shoppers who will have a “mere” 500 MHz to compare to Pentium III processors running at 600-plus MHz and AMD’s Athlon running upwards of 700 MHz.

Apple Tanks adYou’ve probably read that the G4’s main problem is that an “errata” prevents the chip from achieving 500 MHz (see ‘Errata’ Delay 500 MHz G4s, MacWeek), so it looks like the Gigahertz benchmark (1000 MHz) appears to be a watershed event that we won’t be celebrating for a while.

Apple needs some help, and I want to offer it.

Here’s what Apple needs to do.

  1. Open a can of whup you-know-what on Motorola to get them to clock up clock speed of the G4 (I think the IBM announcement will do just that)
  2. Have a Media Event, introducing a 1.7 GHz G4.

It’s obvious to see what #1 will do. Apple needs to close that speed gap with the PC world. And #2 will offer Apple an opportunity to impress the world . . . again.

How can Apple get a 1.7 GHz chip in such short time, especially with the current G4 problems? That’s simple – Apple can re-label the PPC 7400 chips to reflect “Pentium equivalent performance”. For example, the 400 MHz G4 is supposedly 2.9 times as fast as a Pentium III at 600 MHz. That equals 1.7 Pentium III Gigahertz (1740 MHz, to be exact). So Apple can get rid of the 400 MHz label and replace it with “Pentium 1.7 Gigahertz” or some other label.

I chose the low-end G4 at 400 MHz because that gives Motorola some “wiggle room” as they flesh out the 450 MHz G4 – excuse me – as Motorola fleshes out the “Pentium 1.9 Gigahertz” G4 and the “Pentium 2.0 Gigahertz” G4. Such labels would draw everyone’s attention to the fact that the G4 is the fastest computer, period.

Coupled with the forthcoming introduction of Mac OS X, the one-two punch to the PC world would be complete.

I think this would merely be one more example of Thinking Different.

What do you think? Am I on to something here?

Rodney O. Lain (1968-2002) called himself a fashion victim: He liked wearing socks with his sandals. When he wasn’t dispensing fashion advice, Rodney wrote for Low End Mac, The Mac Observer, Applelinks, and many other websites. Rodney lived in Minnesota. His own website was, and we have collected as much of his writing that has since disappeared from the Web as possible in The Rodney O. Lain Archive.

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