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I - I - iMac! Hype Meets Analysts
by Mike Banks Valentine
What new product gets more press attention than a new Porsche?
What can generate more buzz than bear at a beehive? It's a
bird, it's a plane . . . it's super fruit! Apple Computer can
and does get that kind of attention, and it does so regularly.
Hyperbole begins well in advance of each semiannual MacWorld,
and begins with the Mac publications and rumor sites. Every Mac
devotee imagines a revolutionary new product which answers
their every fantasy, whether it be super fast or super cool.
This one turned out to be super cool, and at 800 MHz, it is
fast, but not super fast. Some had predicted a new processor
that broke the 1 GHz barrier. Apple CEO Steve Jobs unvieled
the latest iteration of the iMac to wild cheers from a packed
house at MacWorld Expo in San Francisco Monday, then passed
out several thousand copies of Time Magazine with an iMac
bearing Jobs' smiling face across the new flat-screen monitor
on the cover. The headline reads, "Flat-Out Cool!"
In a story from Pia Sarkar of the San Francisco Chronicle,
Joseph Beaulieu, an analyst for Morningstar Inc., said,
"It looks kind of like a big desk lamp."
"You look at the rest of the PC industry, and the last time I
checked, they were still shipping big beige boxes with wires
hanging out of the back." He is a big fan of the design, but
because design is such a significant aspect of the new iMac,
it "runs the risk of people thinking it's hideous."
Mac user sites inevitably churn out stories about great new
gadgets and goodies in advance of these bi-annual shows, this
time the rumor-mill was fed by a site called SpyMac.com, which
presented video it claimed was of new PDA called "iWalk."
Another Mac user site speculated that Apple might venture back
into the digital camera arena. Rounding out their "Digital Hub"
with the computer as the hub of a "digital lifestyle," either
enhancing or translating multiple devices' digital inputs.
The new iMac 'barely' met the hype, said analyst Rob Enderle,
but was a surprisingly fresh and catchy design. Enderle is an
analyst for the Giga technology research group. Stony-faced
scrutinizers can't even avoid a grin when face-to-face with
an iMac. ;-) But Gartner analyst Charles Smulders suggests
Apple shy away from excess. "They'd be wise to be pragmatic,"
he says. "Frankly, I think Apple has gotten behind a little
bit and it needs to update its products, but it wouldn't be
wise to go to far in this economic environment." Clearly, he
hadn't seen the new iMac when he uttered that profundity.
Before I turned my attention to the web and small business
computing a few years ago, I was an automotive journalist
and had the pleasure of attending new car introductions put
on at glitzy resorts exclusively for the automotive press.
Those of us that reported on new car introductions were
wined, dined and entertained in first-class style by auto
manufacturers and their PR firms before being given the keys
to gleaming new models as-yet-unseen by the world for first
drive impressions and photo ops in stunning locales.
It's a very different world when it comes to computers as
they lined up several hundred journalists outside the doors
of the Moscone convention center for an hour-long wait and
admittance to hard chairs packed shoulder to shoulder as
loudspeakers urged everyone to "please move to the center to
be sure all seats are taken so everyone can have a seat."
I'd love for Nissan to try that approach and hope for rave
reviews from the automotive press on its' latest econobox.
Some technology columnists routinely gripe about the lack
of objectivity shown by adoring fans of any new Mac product.
What is stunning is not the adoration at introductory shows,
but the fact that sales figures of 6 million iMacs over the
last three years fails to impress. Inevitably comparisons
are made to Microsoft and the Windows operating system that
powers 95% of the PC market. One grumbling post at a tech
site message board said, "You won't see iMacs dominating
the enterprise!" Darn, Dilbert! You mean the post office
won't be ordering three million units?
As long as Apple needs to produce stunning designs and fun
software that makes you smile while you work to attract 5%
of the PC market, we'll be seeing mediocre beige boxes
in every cubicle in corporate America. Darn, I guess Macs
will have to remain in movie production, music mixing,
print and online publishing, design and photo studios,
education (the State of Maine just ordered 36,000 iBooks
for public schools) and biotech firms (Genentech ordered
1000 of these new iMacs.)
Remember the Apple byline is "Think Different." If we all
wanted Toyotas, there would be no Ferrari's. If everyone ate
at MacDonald's we wouldn't need Chez Panisse. I may drive a
VW Beetle and eat at home most nights, but Damn, I'm gonna
have an iMac on my desktop!
Check out some of these additional cool ideas from Mac Geeks:
Mike Valentine does Search Engine Placement for the Small
WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet
Weekly Ezine emphasizing small business on the Internet
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