Mac Musings

Letters on Rescuing the Cube

2000.10.06 - Daniel Knight - Tip Jar

The response to How to rescue the Cube has been impressive. It seems I'm far from alone in believing Apple could sell a lot more Cubes at lower prices - some have even suggested less costly G3-based Cubes.

Steven Poleske writes:

Hmmm. That has to be the best idea I have seen. At those prices I might even be able to talk the Mrs. in letting me have one.

I hope someone listens.

Thanks. I hope the right someone is listening.

Liam Gray writes:

I just read your story about How to rescue the Cube, and while I think you are on track, I think the best solution might be a high speed G3 rather than a G4. I have Power Mac G4 Cuberead in a few places that IBM has decent yields on G3s running well over 500 MHz, but that Apple hasn't used them for fear of lower end machines running at a higher clock rate than high end machines. Now that there are dual 500 G4s shipping, maybe they could justify a Cube running say a 600 MHz G3, which would be cheaper than a G4, and also produce less heat. Speed would still be good, and pricing could probably be brought down to the $1499 range, possibly with lower speeds available at lower prices. It would still be less than a G4, yet slightly higher than an iMac with slightly better speed to boot. I think that positioning the Cube as a monitorless iMac is a much better idea than the current situation where it really doesn't have a position at all. The G3 still has some life in it, and at this late in it's cycle the cost to performance ratio is pretty good.

Yes, Apple could definitely position a G3-based Cube as a monitor-free iMac. Good suggestion. Are you listening, Steve?

Mick Weeks writes:

I read your article with great interest as I too was thinking of ways of rescuing the Cube. My thinking was along the lines of have a Cube "light" with a fast G3 processor. However, the stumbling block across which I came was how this would affect iMac sales. Pricing a cube with either a G3 or G4 among the various iMac models could prove somewhat tricky as they would offer the same limitations on expandability with the exception of monitor size.

Maybe the iMac could have gone low end with a $599, $799, $999 configuration and left the $1199-$1799 price points to the monitor-less G3/G4 cubes. Just thinking out loud. I enjoy reading your site. Keep up the good work.

The econoCube has several natural markets that don't compete with the iMac:

Apple has missed the boat in these areas. A lot of us would love a new computer, already have a large monitor, and don't want to spend $1,599 and up for a lot more expansion options than we'll ever need.

If anything, cheaper Cubes would destroy the market for the remaining single processor Power Mac G4.

Peter Jackson writes:

My take is that I can see Apple dropping the prices of the current Cubes. The 450 Cube to $1599 and the 500 MHz Cube to $1999.

I believe this price drop may happen in time for Christmas shopping season.

I don't see Apple coming out with any lower MHz Cube model.

I do wish that Apple would come out with a subnotebook for under a $1000. A lot of us just need the features of a Palm, great word processing, email and the Internet.

Thanks for your great article and analysis.

I'd love to see an $1100 Cube also.

I'm personally waiting for a PowerBook with a 1280 x 1024 screen, but that doesn't mean I'd complain if Santa brought one for Christmas.

You're right on target with the subnotebook. Apple is completely missing one of the hottest markets in portable computing.

Ryan Cohen writes,

I read your Cube article. I still think that two other big problems with the Cube are expandability and ergonomics. There are no slots for adding cards, the power supply is a relatively huge brick that dwarfs the Zip 100's "wall wart", and there's no microphone input (I think there's no mic input, I'm not sure).

The Cube's a cool piece of industrial design, but I doubt Apple would offer a cheaper Cube. Such a Cube would step on the iMac's toes a little too much. Apple, right now, is very much a dictatorship, and I'm thinking that Emperor Steve himself sees the Cube on a price/performance level above the iMacs. :-)

For expandability, Apple makes the larger Power Mac G4. The Cube is for people who want an elegant computer, not something to tinker with. As time goes by, I find myself leaning in that direction. There is a huge market filled with people who don't need expansion.

I don't understand your comment on ergonomics. The Cube is no more or less ergonomic than the Power Mac or any other computer-in-a-box. It is, however, very attractive.

Tim Robertson writes:

Since day #1, I have been bemoaning the price of the Cube. And from day #1, I have been saying "Why don't Apple simply drop a 350 MHz G3 chip in it, call it a monitor-less iMac, and sell it for $799?"

They sell the bottom-rung iMac for that price, but this would be even cheaper for Apple as there is no monitor. So the price should be a no brainer.

We both know they won't go for it, though....

Alas, you're probably right. But at least we've suggested it as one way Apple can turn the apparent liability of the Cube into an asset by making more affordable versions. Beyond that, the ball is in Apple's court.

But the question remains, will Apple make the Cube both cool and affordable?

See also A proposal to fix the Cube, Charles W. Moore, Applelinks, 10/5. "...I would even go farther and suggest that Apple use IBM's new 750cx G3e chips in the lower end Cubes...."

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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