Mac Musings

Joy in iMacville

Daniel Knight - 2002.01.09 -

About the same time I was posting yesterday's Lament for a Budget iMac, MacCentral was publishing the news that Apple "has decided to keep two original CRT iMacs available for the education market and consumers - both systems are priced under $1,000."

Of course, that didn't stop readers from writing in to call me foolish and worse for believing Steve Jobs when he said the new iMac marked the death of CRT computing. After all, how could I be so stupid as to not even check and see that Apple was still selling CRT iMacs online?

I recommend you take you "Lament for a Budget iMac" web page down and hope nobody remembers which uninformed journalist wrote it. You are embarassing yourself with baseless whining.

Please do some research BEFORE writing and posting an article. It makes you look less foolish.

...but Apple *is* an "overpriced elitist computer company," isn't it? Can it afford to be otherwise?

The new iMacs constitute yet one more Apple product line that pushes design, however functional, over price. Do you expect this to change? I don't think it will with the iMac or any other Apple desktop product - not for a long time.

Truthfully, I don't think most of the folks shopping for a $799 computer solution are considering Apple. Apple simply cannot compete with Dell's business model or, worse yet, with chop shops that assemble their own PCs from cheap parts on University contracts.

You lament there isn't something cheaper than $1199. Check your facts first before lamenting something that can be held against us Mac users (like our machines being more expensive). They aren't. Please revise your article. It stinks of someone's PC user's propaganda.

While it is lamentable that Apple is appearing to abandon the budget entry level Mac buyer, I believe they are doing what is necessary to be profitable.

No offense, but according to these MacCentral's interview, your editorial commentary on Apple abandoning users on a budget is way out in left field. You don't do Mac users any favors by prematurely flying off the handle and giving Windoze drones another invalid yet seemingly 'authoritative' viewpoint to use as to why buying a Mac doesn't make sense.

Did Steve Jobs officially write-off the CRT iMacs? I have been reading that Apple still has $799 iMacs in their on-line store. I know he said the new iMac signaled the "Death of the CRT", but did he actually say that no more CRT iMacs would be sold?

I don't doubt that what you said is true, but is it actually feasible to abandon that pricepoint.

For all the reasons you listed, it would be dumb to abandon the low end. If Apple is saying bye-bye to the CRT, I think it will be an extended farewell...

I totally agree with your recent editorial. A budget iMac puts it in range of not less than 3 close relatives, not mention friends. I anticipate recommending the 600 MHz Dalmation from Small Dog to those people.

I was so glad when I went to the Apple store and saw the $800 and $1000 "classic" iMac still there. I hope they can stay there. I completely agree that the new iMacs are great values, but Apple needs to have a complete $800 system in the stable.

Good for them - that's exactly what I said they needed to do.

Yes, it was foolish to take Steve Jobs at his word. After all, every time Apple introduced a new PowerBook, iBook, Power Mac, or iMac since Steve's return, it immediately discontinued the previous model - and sold off the old inventory as quickly as it could.

Yes, it was foolish to see that Apple was still selling CRT iMacs and imagine that this wasn't a close-out. (Besides, Apple can't ship LCD iMacs yet, so it only makes sense they'd sell their existing inventory.)

But, no, those who said that Apple had to abandon the sub-$1,000 market were wrong. Those who said that Apple was only interested in customers who could plunk down $1,299 and more for an iMac were wrong. Apple has not abandoned the low end.

Apple will continue selling CRT iMacs for the foreseeable future, with the 500 MHz/128/20/CD-ROM iMac selling for $799 in indigo and the 600 MHz/256 MB/40 GB/CD-RW iMac selling for $999 in either snow or graphite.

In fact, this plus the 14" iBook really changes the Mac Matrix from two line to three - entry-level (CRT iMac and 12" iBook), midrange (LCD iMac and 14" iBook), and top rung (Power Mac G4 and TiBook).

Apple realized that they had schools to fill with iMacs and individuals who won't budget $1,299 for a computer. As I said, "killing off the successful, affordable sub-$1,000 iMac won't help Apple increase market share."

There are three kinds of Mac buyers:

  1. repeat buyers, who tend to be loyal to the Mac
  2. Windows converts, who aren't easy to win over
  3. first-time buyers, who probably have some computing experience

Apple's greatest potential for climbing out of its market share death spiral is first-time buyers, since once they become Mac owners they are likely to remain loyal. These users don't have dozens of applications and games for Windows. They don't have a bunch of PC peripherals. They just want to be productive.

Thanks to iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, AppleWorks, Internet Explorer, and Apple's OS X email client, these people can buy a new iMac and become productive immediately. They can connect MP3 players, digital cameras, and digital video cameras easily - a card Apple must play effectively against the Wintel world.

Sure, we'll win over some PC users tired of the instability, sick of the license fees, scared of the viruses, or fearful of .Net, but most Windows users are not going to switch to the Mac. New users and first-time buyers are the key to growing market share.

A lot of those potential customers are seeing "Dude, you're getting a Dell" ads with a $899 price tag featured very prominently. They might not realize that this doesn't include shipping or the kind of wonderful application suite Apple provides, but the price sticks in their minds.

People prepared to spend $899 will ante up for shipping, some software, and maybe some accessories, but they will quickly dismiss a $1,299 computer as too expensive. That's why I'm thrilled to learn that Apple plans to keep the CRT iMac alive and inexpensive at least in the near future.

Comparing a $799 or $999 iMac with an $899 Dell - that's something that's more likely to tempt first-time buyers than an $1,199 iBook or $1,299 iMac. And that makes keeping sub-$1,000 iMacs available crucial to Apple's future.

Apple, too often perceived as an elitist brand with overpriced products, needs to remain as accessible to those on tight budgets as possible. After all, once they go Windows, we've probably lost them for good.

As I said, "Far better for Apple to keep the classic iMac in production for schools, businesses, families, and individual users who don't want to budget over $1,000 for a new computer. Even if the classic iMac represents only 5% of Apple's sales, by embracing the budget buyer Apple can fight the stigma of being an overpriced elitist computer company."