1999: “All you get is 32 megs of RAM? Only a 6 gigabyte hard drive? But I want more!” you say when you order your iMac.
Many people I know, including me, have said this when buying a new iMac. For many, the iMac has several shortcomings and flaws. However, fewer people have complained about problems when ordering a Power Mac G3 or G4.
Why are so many more people satisfied with them than an iMac?
The answer is simple: more choices.
When you go to the Apple Store and order a Power Mac G3 or G4, you get your choice of a few different models. If you don’t like these models, you can mix and match configurations to create your dream computer.
So I suggest that Apple make built-to-order iMacs. You go to their site, pick your color, software, hard drive, etc. Of course, they could also have a few base configurations to start out with.
First, a low-end model, complete with a 300 MHz processor, a 6 GB hard drive, and 32 MB of RAM. This would be plenty for a student computer or a simple workstation. (Sound familiar? It’s today’s iMac scaled back to 300 MHz.)
Another model could be a little faster, with a target audience of game players. It would have a 366 MHz processor, 64 MB of RAM, and a better video card. An ATI Rage 128 with 16 MB of VRAM perhaps. Also possibly include a gamepad to go along with it.
Next, a third model with power users in mind. This should have a 400 MHz processor. Maybe 64 MB of RAM, and an 8 GB drive. A 16 or 17-inch monitor might also be in line.
The last model I would suggest is an upper-end model for graphic designers who don’t really want to spend all of their money on a new Power Mac G4. It should have a 433 MHz or even a 450 MHz processor, and possibly even a G4 CPU. Definitely a 17″ monitor and a better video card. Also, I would throw in a 10 GB drive and give it 64-128 MB of RAM.
I would also offer an opportunity to mix and match your components because many people want a 17″ monitor but don’t really need a large drive. Also, introduce an iMac in that graphite color of the new G4. This will make the iMac appeal more to people who are looking for a professional computer without having to spend a lot of money.
Update: The 400 MHz October 1999 iMac DV SE came in graphite with DVD-ROM, FireWire, 128 MB of RAM, and a 13 GB hard drive.
So, in the end, I guess, with mix and match iMacs, you could say Apple will have there own salad bar with all of their fruity computers.
For a counterpoint, see Gilding the iMac Lily, which argues that Apple has to keep the iMac line uncluttered.