Fourteen months ago I wrote an editorial, suggesting that Apple should create an ultra cheap machine to battle the PC world. On that article, I suggested some specs for the hypothetical “Strawberry” computer. As technology is moving on fast, I am now updating these specs. To get the idea though, please make sure you read last year’s article before you read on this one.Things to consider before commenting:
* This machine is targetting switchers. Hence the mouse with the wheel and three buttons. Switchers that can’t take the girlie all-in-one eMac and want some PCI expandability and also switchers who are sensitive in prices.
* Such a machine could cannibalize the higher end Apple Macs. Therefore, eMacs, iMacs, Powerbooks, iBooks and PowerMacs should trim down $100 to $200 off their price. I believe that an iMac starting at $999 or an iBook starting at $999, or an eMac starting at $649 have better chances in today’s commoditized PC world and would play better with a release of a “Strawberry” line. In fact, it would be cool if Apple shave off these prices 2 months before the release of the “Strawberry” Mac, to create awareness, and look better in the quarter’s results.
* The CPU that would now be used, would be IBM’s new G3 family that Apple never shipped: “G3 with the Velocity Engine”. This CPU would marketed as “G4-lite”, because if you call it a “G3+”, no one would buy it. It’s a lot like the price of a random product at “$499” sounding better than the same product priced at “$500”.
* No iLife package would be bundled with that machine. Costs must go down. iLife available seperately.
* The fastest model is still slower than the low end eMac. This will help to not cannibalize the eMac sales, which are mostly targetting schools anyway.
* The graphics cards must be able to manage 1600×1200 @ 85 Hz (maximum 2048×1536 @ 60 Hz) just in case the user will use modern 21″ CRTs.
* YellowDogLinux 4.x could be an option. This way Apple could offer both OSX and Linux to diversify within its potential switchers who are bound to be mostly geeks.
* Again, before commenting, make sure you read last year’s, more explanatory on the subject, article.
If these prices seem too low to you, I would go as high as $349 for the Entry model and $499 for the Combo model. But higher prices than these would miss the point of the whole operation.
Having written all that, keep in mind that Apple has made clear in their SEC filing that they are not going to pursue the cheap PC market space, they only want to sell to a higher-end computer market. So, don’t dream too much of the above suggestions… 😉