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 Porsche to try that approach and hope for rave reviews from the automotive press.
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 won’t see mediocre beige boxes sitting 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!
Mike Banks Valentine operates SEOptimism, Offering SEO training of
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