Headless iMac for $499?  Please, Apple, let it be true!

By SteveJack

Today, ThinkSecret reported that Apple is expected to announce an entry-level G4-based iMac sans display at Macworld Expo on January 11 that will retail for $499. AppleInsider also reports this same “Headless iMac” that will go for “under $600.” This new Macintosh, code-named Q88, is reported to be part of the iMac family and is expected to feature a PowerPC G4 processor running in the neighborhood of 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,” according to ThinkSecret. “Its size benefits will include the ability to stand the Mac on its side or put it below a display or monitor,” ThinkSecret reports.

Reportedly, this new Mac is expected to have a Combo drive, but will possibly provide the option of a SuperDrive at a higher price and feature a 40GB hard drive and maybe the option for an 80GB drive. Other expected features of the iMac include: 256MB base RAM, USB 2.0, FireWire 400, 10/100 BASE-T Ethernet, 56K V.92 modem, and AirPort Extreme support.

Okay, I can hear you now, “Only 256MB of RAM?! Is Apple crazy?!” But, it’s really not a problem, as most resellers will throw in extra RAM for the usual “installation fee” of $30 or so as an incentive. It’s one of the few incentives resellers have as Apple holds them very tight to their suggested retail prices. And even with just 256MB, this machine would be fine for browsing the Web, emailing, word processing, using iTunes, etc.

Let me jump tracks for a moment now. Yesterday, a family friend asked me to help her 14-year-old daughter with her iPod mini. They had installed iTunes and had a gift card for $15 that they wanted to use. Unfortunately, they also had a POS Gateway running Windows XP. When I got to their house, I launched iTunes and the thing crawled – it was virtually unusable. A quick CTRL-ALT-DELETE and a look at the processes running confirmed my suspensions: the machine was infested with adware and spyware. I asked them what browser they used. They asked what did I mean? I asked them what they clicked to get to the Internet and they said, “the blue ‘e’ on the desktop.” I asked them if they had heard about Firefox. No, they hadn’t. I told them they had to stop using Internet Explorer and as I killed off running spyware and adware .exe’s, I asked them if the computer had ever been “cleaned out.” To my surprise, they said, yes it had. It had gotten so clogged it wouldn’t do anything and they had taken it to Best Buy three weeks ago and had it cleaned up. I told them that by using Windows XP with Internet Explorer, it would keep happening again and again. I showed them how to update Windows and downloaded Firefox for them. I finally got enough rogue programs stopped that I could get iTunes to respond and they bought their first song with their gift certificate. An unacceptable experience is what I told them this machine was giving them and they agreed. But, they had no idea what to do except take it back to Best Buy for “cleaning.”

You may think I’m exaggerating. But, I am not. It really is this bad. That’s just one example above – I’ve run into this many, many times and it’s increasing in frequency with each passing day. People are literally not using their computers because the machines won’t run their programs because they’re too busy running adware and spyware apps in the background! And these poor people have no idea what to do except to take it back to Best Buy for another “cleaning.” It really is terrible and it’s getting worse.

A bare bones 1.25GHz G4 Mac OS X box with 256MB of RAM connected to their current Gateway monitor would mean a world of difference to them. A universe of difference. Yesterday, the best I could offer them was $800 for a 50 pound eMac or $1299 for an iMac G5. If these reports of a $499 “Headless iMac” are true, they would buy it immediately, if I showed them where to buy it.

If this “Headless iMac” materializes and if Apple gets the word out correctly (a big “if” given Apple’s track record of promoting Mac OS X) there is probably well over a year before Microsoft revs up its Longhorn BS publicity machine. Imagine a promotion of this new “Headless iMac” plus an Apple ‘iPod flash’ for US$599. Or even US$699! A lot more people who just want to surf the ‘Net, email, chat, type a resume, buy some songs for their iPods, organize their photos and order prints are going to have a real, honest-to-God option from Apple. And people like me are finally going to have a serious option to offer them that will actually and realistically result in sales of Mac OS X machines. Once they get a taste of how things are with Mac OS X, let me tell you, they are not going back. Never, ever. Nope, not after what they’ve gone through with Windows.

Please, Apple, let this rumor be true! It could change many people’s computing lives for the better.

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
RUMOR: Apple to debut $499 ‘headless iMac’ at Macworld Expo on January 11 – December 29, 2004
Inexpensive ‘Headless iMac’ could hook Windows users who love their iPods on Mac OS X – December 29, 2004

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