August 31, 2004 7:21 AM PDT

Apple puts the squeeze on new iMac

Apple Computer's fall fashion statement, direct from the runways of Paris, is a svelte design for the new iMac.

The new all-in-one iMac G5 desktop tucks all of its components, including its hard drive, processor and DVD drive, behind a wide-screen liquid crystal display. The machine, which is about 2 inches thick and is mounted on a curved metal stand, has proportions similar to those of the company's Cinema Display flat panels.

The computer maker unveiled the design--its third all-in-one iMac--on Tuesday at the Apple Expo in Paris and, in doing so, ended considerable speculation. Apple had kept the specs of the iMac G5 a secret, but that didn't stop a number of Web sites from having a say about the possibilities.

Many Mac users had predicted Apple would go with a design that placed the computer's innards directly behind the display.

The unveiling also marks somewhat of a change in emphasis for the company, whose designs for desktop computers in recent months have been overshadowed by the look and feel of its iPod digital music player. On its Web site, Apple asserts that the iMac G5 is "as fun and useful" as the iPod. In fact, the iPod design team came up with the new iMac, which Apple describes as "enchanting."

News.context

What's new:
Apple unveiled a new iMac that has all of its components tucked into a 2-inch-thick flat-screen display.

Bottom line:
The original flat-panel iMac scored high for its quotient of "cool," but sales cooled off quickly. Can the new design do better?

More stories on this topic

"What would the creators of the iPod do for their next computer?" Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide product marketing, said at the Paris unveiling to describe the rationale behind the latest addition to the Mac family.

The iMac line could probably use some of the iPod's cachet. While sales of the music player have been scorching, sales of the previous version of the desktop lost steam over time.

The company would have liked to unveil the new machine earlier. Apple first confirmed that a new iMac was on the way in July. At that time, it said that it had stopped taking orders for iMac G4 models and that it had hoped to have an all-new model available before G4 stocks ran out. Instead, Apple was hampered by a shortage of G5 processors.

Although Apple began taking orders for the iMac G5 on its Web site Tuesday and plans to ship the systems in mid-September, the gap in timing has left the company without a consumer-oriented desktop to sell for a good portion of the 2004 back-to-school season.

Still, the new desktop's iPod-like profile and finish could serve to bring in some new blood from among the millions of iPod owners, one analyst said.


News.commentary
Apple's missed opportunity
With the new iMac G5, Apple has once
again come up with a unique package
of design, power and ease of use.
But will it be enough?


"I think what Apple is recognizing is that at least right now, the iPod is going to drive its brand, and they want to take advantage of that," said Steve Baker, an analyst at The NPD Group. "Why does this look like the iPod? Because it's clearly positioned as the consumer PC for people who own iPods but don't own an Apple desktop."

The iMac G5 still faces some obstacles, including its starting price, which, at $1,299, is higher than the typical $500 to $700 consumer-oriented desktop PCs and $400 17-inch LCD displays. But Apple and others, such as Gateway, have shown that there is a market for all-in-ones despite their price and the fact that a display can outlive a desktop PC by years.

"To Apple, price isn't the most important thing," Baker said. "A car is a car, but a BMW is a BMW. The value in an iMac is not in the hard drive, it's in the design and the ease of use--at least that's what they'll tell you--so why would you sacrifice design to cram another 256MB of RAM in there?"

Timeline of the iMac

July 8, 1998
Steve Jobs touts the new iMac as a catalyst for Apple's comeback

July 16, 2001
Is the iMac over the hill at age 3?

January 7, 2002
Apple introduces first flat-panel iMac

January 28, 2002
Apple announces it has 150,000 preorders for new iMac

March 21, 2002
Blaming flat-panel and memory prices, Apple hikes price of all iMac models by $100

April 29, 2002
Apple introduces eMac, cheaper CRT-based alternative to the flat-panel iMac

July 17, 2002
Apple introduces 17-inch flat-panel iMac

February 4, 2003
Apple refreshes iMac line with new 15-inch and 17-inch models

March 18, 2003
Apple discontinues original gumdrop-style iMac, ending its five-year run

September 8, 2003
Apple speeds up 15-inch, 17-inch iMacs

Nov. 18, 2003
Apple introduces 20-inch iMac

July 1, 2004
Apple announces new iMac on the way, though delayed; stops taking orders for current models

Previous models included the iMac G4, introduced in 2002, whose swing-arm-mounted flat screen drew comparisons to a desk lamp, and the first-generation CRT-based machine from 1998, whose form is still emulated by the eMac.

Aimed primarily at the education market, the eMac offers a 17-inch CRT, 1.25GHz PowerPC G4 processor and combination CD-burner/DVD-ROM for a starting price of $799.

What it packs
In spite of the new iMac's slim profile, Apple squeezed a fair amount of power into the machines. All three models include a G5 processor, otherwise known as IBM's PowerPC 970, and two come with Apple's SuperDrive DVD burner.

The most basic $1,299 model will include a 1.6GHz processor and a 17-inch screen, with a resolution of 1,440 by 900 pixels. It also comes with 256MB of RAM; an 80GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive; a combination CD-burner/DVD-ROM drive; Nvidia's GeForce FX 5200 Ultra graphics chip; and 64MB of dedicated graphics memory. Apple's Mac OS X version 10.3 operating system is also included.

The intermediate model, priced at $1,499, has the same screen but offers a faster 1.8GHz processor, whose data pipeline to and from memory also accelerates to 600MHz from 533MHz. It comes with the Apple SuperDrive, a combination DVD-burner/CD-burner.

The $1,899 model's 20-inch screen offers a resolution of 1,680 by 1,050 pixels. This iMac also includes the 1.8GHz chip, a 160GB, 7,200-rpm hard drive, and the SuperDrive.

Customers who purchase any of the machines directly from Apple can add more memory and a larger hard drive and can opt for add-ons such as an Apple AirPort Extreme wireless card. When fitted with 1GB of RAM, a 250GB hard drive and an Airport card, the 20-inch model costs about $2,300, Apple's site shows.

As part of its efforts to keep the iMac G5 trim, Apple used design tricks such as incorporating the machine's power supply, making for a less bulky power cord arrangement; many other thin desktops use a brick-like external power supply. Apple also included a complement of audio- and video-out, USB, FireWire and Ethernet ports, and gives customers the option of adding Bluetooth, the short-range wireless networking technology for connecting peripherals.

The Bluetooth module alone adds $50, while the module plus a keyboard and mouse adds $99 to the price of an iMac purchased directly from Apple.

Specifications aside, it's the design that Apple hopes will sell the system.

"Everyone is going to be asking, 'Where did the computer go?' The entire computer (now) floats in the air," said Schiller. Apple, he said, is aiming for a machine that people will be "proud to have in their den, their living room or in the front of a small business."

Jo Best of Silicon.com in London contributed to this report.

36 comments

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wow
swell!
Posted by rigidus (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Built-in display - a good thing?
I'm leery about having a built-in display. When the iMac needs to be replaced in ~3 years, the display will have to go to and you'll have to buy a new one. This makes the iMac even more expensive than the typical premium Apple charges.
Posted by Mad Dog - Chi (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why keep a display?
why would you want to keep a display in three years time when
there will be newer ones. that arguement doesn't make sense. i
have never reused a display. when i replace my pc i get rid of the
whole thing since better quality displays are always coming out
at even lower prices.
Posted by Filip Remplakowski (91 comments )
Link Flag
$$$$$$$$
It's hard to justify spending that amount of money on the IMAC. Sure I would love one over my windows pc, but for what I do on my pc, 2000 grand is absurd.
Posted by saleen351 (36 comments )
Reply Link Flag
2000 grand?
Wait, that would translate into $2 000 000. You are correct, I
wouldn't want a 2 million dollar iMac. :)

However, looking at what it offers (20" screen, DVD burner, etc.)
it's not quite outlandish. Besides, you can pick up a 17" version
for $1299. Macs are not for everybody, so unless you have tried
it and found it unusable, there is not much anyone can say
about the price/performance ratio.

I have not worked in Windows or Linux much and thus don't
comment on them. My only experience is troubleshooting my
dad's HP Windows XP machine ($699). And from that i can tell
you that I am glad I spent a premium to have a mac.
Posted by zarathustra911 (35 comments )
Link Flag
Gateway Ripoff :P
Ironically Gateway's iMac ripoff, the Profile 3 had a similar design.. but came out **2 YEARS AGO** :)

See for yourself: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://supcontent.gateway.com/support.gateway.com/s/MISC/CustIDSerial/profile3sm.gif" target="_newWindow">http://supcontent.gateway.com/support.gateway.com/s/MISC/CustIDSerial/profile3sm.gif</a>
Posted by (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Have you looked at the back of that machine?
They don't show it in any of the photographs. The profile series
was "butt" ugly.
Posted by S R (85 comments )
Link Flag
Correction, Apple invented this design, not gateway
Woops. Check this out: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://hotline.kicks-ass.net/tam/" target="_newWindow">http://hotline.kicks-ass.net/tam/</a>
Posted by (23 comments )
Link Flag
not to mention..
..the profile 4 starts at 1099 and offers similar performance.
Posted by lewissalem (167 comments )
Link Flag
difference
between new iMac and Gateway is difference between supermodel and butt-ugly
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
svelte?
That thing is 25 lb!
Posted by edraven (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple Price Gouging at Its Finest.
I can't get overly excited on a consumer product that is priced as high as the iMac is. And don't give me this BMW bull****. I've had more friends who've had defective iBooks. Defective iPod's. Scrapped their system with OS updates. (10.2.8 anyone?) Fighting tooth and nail to get something repaired under warrantee when Apple support says its their fault that if this was how BMW was run they would have been out of business years ago. The reality is that the core components of a Mac be it a *book, *Mac are the same components that you find in a typical PC. Hard drive, RAM, and to a certain extent GPU and even DVD burners. The mobo and CPU are another matter and those pieces do NOT makes up for the price. Apple is price gouging their customers because they know these are people who are fed up with Windows and they know they can get away with gutting them because they will do and pay anything to stop using Windows even though if they really paid attention they would see that Apple isn't a whole heck of a lot better. How many of you folks updated iPhoto just before Apple pulled it off of update because of glitches? I've read of more then a few of these instances occurring in Apple updates. Quality thy name ain't Apple but not to leave MS out they aren't any better. So sing me another tune other then the song of Apple quality. Personally I think they are cutting corners because their market share is dropping like the Titanic to the bottom of the ocean. Its not a fast decline but a steady one. Apple's getting niche marketed all right. A smaller and smaller niche and that is because they have decided not to even try and compete against these Sub $999 systems (And DO NOT tell me the eMac competes. Its a seriously overpriced hunk of junk at 1.25Ghz running across a 167Mhz system bus. The only bang you get for your buck is the shotgun blast of reality when you realize you could have gotten double or triple the system specs for the same price. Hopefully Apple will migrate their 1.5Ghz chips down to the eMac but even then the system bus is strangling system performance. (Thank you Moto you incompetent clods.)
I don't know what Apple's long term game plan is for the Mac line (I haven't even gotten to my rant on PowerBooks and how they are sitting EXACTLY where the G4 PowerMac was preG5.) but as it stands their hardware is expensive enough that for those users who consider Windows "good enough" they won't even consider a Mac. Way to entice people to migrate, Apple. Are you guys actively trying to put yourselves out of the computer business?!?!
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Haha
Your post was actually pretty funny. You've obviously never done
the work involved in comparing a Mac to a PC. Why don't you try
this:

Go to Apple's website and take a look at one of their laptops,
like the PowerBook for example. Then go to Dell's website and
custom configure one of their laptops so it has the same specs -
built in Bluetooth, 802.11g, Win. XP Pro (Home does not
compare to OS X), etc. Be sure to give the Dell the multimedia
programs similar to what is included with Apple's iLife.

Then total them up. I've found every time that the Dell laptop is
the same, or usually more expensive than the Mac. The same
thing happens with Apple's desktops. Don't tell me about "price-
gouging."

BTW this iMac has a 64-bit processor. Any PC you buy from
another manufacturer that is comparable is 32-bit. And
Windows XP doesn't even support 64-bit, while OS X does. Next
time get your facts straight before you madly post about Apple.
I've used Macs for years and can tell you that the quality far, far
exceeds that of any Windows-based PC. I can't even explain it.
Just go to an Apple store and try one for yourself.
Posted by iKenny (98 comments )
Link Flag
Do the comparison
If you compare the Gateway 5X-C to the Apple 1.8GHz 17-inch iMac you'll see that both have a price tag of $1,499.00. I choose these because they are the middle model for both and ALL-IN-ONE machines.

There are differences.
* RAM:
Gateway 512MB 333MHz DDR SDRAM (1-512MB modules)
Apple 256MB of PC3200 (400MHz) DDR SDRAM expandable to 2GB; two memory slots.
* L2 Cache
Gateway 1MB
Apple 512K
* Optical:
Gateway 24x/10x/24x CD-RW / 8x DVD combo
Apple 24x/16x/24x CD-RW / 8x DVD-R
* FireWire:
Gateway 0 ports
Apple 2 FireWire 400 ports
* Height:
Gateway 17.33 inches
Apple 16.9 inches (43.0 cm)
* Width:
Gateway 15.38 inches
Apple 16.8 inches (42.6 cm)
* Depth:
Gateway 7.25 inches
Apple 6.8 inches (17.3 cm)
* Weight:
Gateway 20.8 pounds
Apple 18.5 pounds (8.4 kg)
* OS:
Gateway Windows XP Home (upgrade to Pro not included)
Apple OS X

I didn't include everything, but this should give you an idea of these 2 machines.

You do your own comparisons and see how far off these machines are in what they offer.
Posted by vanox (49 comments )
Link Flag
Delusional...or making excuses...not sure which
You are kidding right? This is a DESKTOP not a laptop. You aren't getting a laptop on a stand. Find me an 18.5 pound laptop please. This device is a desktop. Period. It was designed to take up less space. Period. You are making excuses. No excuses for price. I don't care how pretty this thing is its overpriced. If nothing else they shafted the system on RAM. 256MB?!?! Yah right.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yet another GREAT design from Apple!
I'll have to admit that I was kinda skeptical until Apple unveiled
the beast (iMac G5). I remember back to the unveiling of the
famous iLamp (iMac G4) thinking to myself that Steve Jobs and
his super duper designing freak Jonathan Ive had lost it, but
after seeing the iMac G4 up close and personal actually changed
my view of how awesome the design was.

Though the iMac G5 did not deliver the "shock and awe" that the
iMac G4 did (when it first arrived), it's still a great design and
definitely shows that Apple does computer hardware design
better than anyone else on the planet!
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hehe
more like copy the best on the planet
Posted by marlow714 (29 comments )
Link Flag
Too Expensive?
I agree that for an entry level machine (if that is indeed how
Apple is positioning the iMac these days) $1299 is a high start
price, but I really think if you add up all the features, the
equivalent PC is the same or more for a name brand like Dell or
HP (no fair using the build it yourself Fry's examples). All in all, a
pretty design, but I think it gets ruined once you start adding
cords (no place to hide them after all ) :) -C
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not really entry-level
iMacs, since the "lamp" version have been mid-range computers.

eMacs are the entry level system... price at $600-800. Cheaper with an education or government discount.
Posted by mgescuro (2 comments )
Link Flag
Bad for the consumer and the environment
It's a shame that Apple is still pushing closed, all-in-one designs. It's also a shame that Apple doesn't offer "bare" systems or individual components.

Consumers lose out because they have to repurchase everything, every time they buy a new Macintosh.

The iMac's built-in display is an obvious example. LCDs don't wear out, per se. They are also not cheap: a 15-inch LCD adds at least $300 to the retail price of a computer system. Consumers shouldn't have to pay that price over and over again.

What about other components? When a PC user wants to upgrade, she can get a new motherboard, a new CPU, and new RAM without having to pay for a new hard drive, DVD drive, case, or power supply at the same time. If her computing needs are modest, she'll be glad to hold on to the old components for a few more years. If her needs are specialized, she'll be thankful that she doesn't have to pay for -- and immediately discard -- the basic hard drive, graphics card, and DVD drive included in Apple's minimum configurations.

Saving money isn't the only consideration. Reuse of components spares the environment. Computer equipment -- from CRTs to LCDs to PC boards -- is toxic waste. A company that promotes non-expandable, all-in-one designs and sells only whole systems, never components, cannot be said to be concerned about the environment.
Posted by rpms (96 comments )
Reply Link Flag
do some research!
iMacs are upgradable.
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Link Flag
What are you comparing?
The one logic flaw in your argument is you are comparing a DESKTOP machine with an ALL-IN-ONE machine. Apple's G5 is also available as a desktop fully upgradable, swap out video cards, add a 2nd one. Add a DVD-R drive or don't.

My Mac G4 that I have had for 4 years has been upgraded when I needed to do it. I've upgraded the RAM, the video card, added an additional hard drive, etc.

Most users do not upgrade their machines. Therefore an ALL-IN-ONE machine may fit their needs.
Posted by vanox (49 comments )
Link Flag
lame
no mater how you decide to slice it - looks ok but it's really only a notebook on a stand. If they where smart they would give their cult followers some options. Where is the ability to customize it yourself? The only people who will buy it are the ignorant and current cult drones.

Apple can copy anything they like and call it their own. It isn't like anyone in the mainstream really cares. When it's all done and said it comes down to cost and what people are comfortable with.
Posted by marlow714 (29 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's this thing with "cult"?
Why is it that Windows zealots feel threatened by those who
don't choose the Wintel as their platform of choice? So they
resort to name calling and such and spew things like "fanatic"
and "cult".

And in fact, since people such as yourself follow a certain
tradition of Mac-envy while using the marketshare blunder and
other immature rhetoric to satisfy your own cult-like beliefs,
which throws you right into the same pool as to those you point
the finger at.
Posted by JuggerNaut (860 comments )
Link Flag
What I don't get....
What I don't get is if you are never planning to buy a Mac, why do you care what design they use?
Why do you care how much RAM is used? Why do you care what Apple does?

There are many things in the world that I never plan on purchasing and I could care less what features those items have.
Posted by vanox (49 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Then...
...why are you wasting time here? Your opinion is obviously
worthless.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
 

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