Skip to comments.Apple to drop sub-$500 Mac bomb at Expo
Posted on 12/28/2004 11:09:37 PM PST by HAL9000
December 28, 2004 - With iPod-savvy Windows users clearly in its sights, Apple is expected to announce a bare bones, G4-based iMac without a display at Mac Expo on January 11 that will retail for $499, highly reliable sources have confirmed to Think Secret.
The new Mac, code-named Q88, will be part of the iMac family and is expected to sport a PowerPC G4 processor at a speed around 1.25GHz. The new Mac is said to be incredibly small and will be housed in a flat enclosure with a height similar to the 1.73 inches of Apple's Xserve. Its size benefits will include the ability to stand the Mac on its side or put it below a display or monitor.
Along with lowering costs by forgoing a display (Apple's entry-level eMac sells for $799 with a built-in 17-inch CRT display), the so-called "headless" iMac will allow Apple's target audience -- Windows users looking for a cheap, second PC -- to keep their current peripherals or decide on their own what to pair with the system, be it a high-priced LCD display or an inexpensive display. Sources except the device to feature both DVI and VGA connectivity, although whether this will be provided through dual ports or through a single DVI port with a VGA adapter remains to be seen.
The new Mac is expected to have a Combo drive only, but possibly an upgrade path to a SuperDrive at a higher price. It is unclear how big the hard drive capacity will be, although sources indicate it will be between 40GB and 80GB.
Other expected features of the iMac include: * 256MB of RAM * USB 2.0 * FireWire 400 * 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet * 56K V.92 modem * AirPort Extreme support
In terms of software, Apple will include a special iLife suite (minus iDVD) as well as AppleWorks, sources believe.
The new Mac is expected to be introduced by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs at his keynote address on Tuesday, January 11, but is not expected to be available until later in the first quarter. Sources indicate "issues" have arisen in production of the new Mac, but that Apple never planned on shipping the new device immediately upon introduction. The plan is to air freight the new model from its manufacturing plants in Asia for at least the first three months of shipments, sources report.
The announcement of the new, inexpensive Mac will be a dream come true for Mac aficionados who have begged and pleaded for years to see just such a PC. Until now, the company has downplayed speculation that it would get into the low-end PC market. "In terms of our pricing, I feel very good about where each of our product lines are priced," Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's CFO, said in October. "To date, we have chosen not to compete in the sub-$800 desktop market and have put that R&D investment in expanding our products in the music area, in software, and in hardware."
So what has changed to motivate Apple in producing a low-cost Mac? In a word, iPod.
"Think of your traditional iPod owner," said a source. "This new product will be for a Windows user who has experienced the iPod, the ease of use of the iTunes software, and has played around with a Mac at an Apple retail store just long enough to know he'd buy one if it were a little cheaper."
Apple executives announced on October 13 that 45% to 50% of its retail stores customers bought a Mac as their first PC or were new to the platform in the fiscal fourth-quarter. The company has refused to divulge more exacting figures on iPod buyers who also buy a Mac, for competitive reasons.
According to sources, internal Apple surveys of its retail store customers and those buying iPod's showed a large number of PC users would be willing to buy a Mac if it were cheap enough, less of a virus carrier (which all Macs already are), and offered easier to use software solutions not available on Windows-based PCs. Now, Apple feels they have the answer.
Apple has been working on the low-end Mac for almost a year, sources report. Indications are Apple has been working mostly on finding the right mix of price, performance and features that would motivate Windows users to consider a Mac, and less on the actual engineering of the product. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to design a bare-bones PC," said one source familiar with the project. "What it takes is a team of marketing and software experts to find the right mix to convince Windows users to buy a Mac at a price that is not much more than the cost of an iPod."
Sources familiar with the product cautioned that the low-end Mac will be marketed towards a totally different audience than those who traditionally buy even a $799 eMac. "This product is not going to be about performance," said a source close to Apple. "This is going to be the basics, but with just as much of a focus on software as any Mac could ever be."
I could find room for one.
A $499 Mac. Apple will sell tons of these things.
And that's precisely why they won't do it.
This is the standard Mac Expo rumor every year, and every year it doesn't happen. Should, but likely won't.
Ummm. KVM switches'll work?
Right now I'm using a Compaq Presario 1200 Laptop. It is over 3 years old, has a 1.0 GHz processor and I added 128 MB of RAM to it, to bring it up to 160 MB total. 15 GB Hard drive and the biggest feature is the DVD/CD-R/RW combo drive. I'm not selling it or getting a new one for the same reason that you buy a car and drive it until it dies. But, if this thing is as portable as a laptop and sells for $500 - has a faster processor, probably more hard disk space, more RAM and a USB 2.0 connection? I'm game. I don't watch DVDs on my computer anyway.
What they lose on each sale they will make up in volume.
This could be part of a strategy to get back into the schools. Schools seem to have two types of computers these days. New PCs or elderly Macs.
They had better be able to turn a profit on these, though.
Yes, I think so.
Cool. Set it up with Windows or buy an extra Mac Monitor.
Bundling one of these with a new iPod (at an appropriate price point) would open up new markets.
I am still waiting for the audio computer that can fit in a pocket. never mind.
Apple's profit margin should be much better than - for example, Dell's - for a similarily priced item.
Apple doesn't have to split the money with Microsoft. So there's a big profit right there.
Then, Apple's customer support costs should be much lower than the PC clone manufacturers. Mac owners generally have fewer problems than our Wintel counterparts, so we don't need to spend hours on the phone complaining to the Dell dude in India about dead-on-arrival hardware, worms, viruses, spyware, etc.
I might even pop for a sub-$500 Mac.
1.25 Ghz G4? My 4 year old Athlon XP would destroy that.
No, it wouldn't.
At $499...AND it comes pre-installed with and runs OSX!?!?! Unbelievable if they can pull it off.
I guess I can put my plans on hold to upgrade a beige POWER MAC desktop to run OSX...purchased for large sum of $7.99 :0)
Dear Apple Computer:
If you build this, I will purchase one. If you build me a much much nicer one for 800 bucks I'll buy that too.
I won't dump my linux and windows boxes for it but I will buy a Mac at this price.
GET SOME FREAKING GAMES FOR IT AND YOU GOT A DEAL.
no need to dump anything....you can run LINUX AND WINDOWS on your NEW MAC running OSX all at the SAME TIME:)
I have been running LINUX on old PowerMAC for years. Folks don't seem to realize that a 1.2GHZ RISC PowerPC chip compares favorably to any CISC chip running 3GHZ+. And, they don't need a JET ENGINE and oversize heatsink to cool.
No wonder the NAVY and Military have been buying up Apple XSERVE machines like candy.
Of course, everybody knows about the 7th FASTEST SUPERCOMPUTER in the world -located at Virginia Tech's TERASCALE Computing Facility. Built entirely out of APPLE MAC G5's for a FRACTION of the cost of other computers...no INTEL or AMD on THAT list ;)
SYSTEM X SUPERCOMPUTER: http://www.tcf.vt.edu/
oppps...Intel ITANIUM..in 5th place...for a discontinued processor ...lol