The New PowerMacs: Cheaper, but Not Better

by Hadley Stern Jan 28, 2003

imageCan’t innovate? Can’t introduce truly new products that take technology to the next level? Do what Apple does, make incremental improvements and make your products a little bit cheaper. It is a short-term solution to a now long-term problem—the lack of newer and faster processors in the Macintosh. The G4 is now a few years old, and short of incremental processor increases (what the heck is a 1.42 ghz processor!!) and stuffing two chips in one machine, nothing much has changed in the professional end Macintosh line. Yes, we have “airport extreme” (which is available in pc’s too), and yes, we have higher bit-width pci slots but the raw computing power is incrementally better.

Apple needs to solve this processor lag quickly. High-end video and 3D applications demand not just parity with Intel processors but a competitive advantage. Apple has, on the software side, a lot going for it. On the hardware side something needs to happen, and soon.

What do you think? Is raw speed important to the Macintosh computing experience? Or are you content with the current line-up?


  • Ummm…isn’t this pretty much exactly the same thing that Wintel does?  Incremental upgrades in between major processor-family upgrades?  I think I’m missing something…

    Oh, and I don’t use a Mac, but I would have to think that having two processors in a computer (with a multi-threaded operating system) is actually a much more major performance boost than this guy so casually writes off.

    SteveInPhilly had this to say on Jan 28, 2003 Posts: 1
  • Apple can’t innovate and can’t come up with groundbreaking new products. What are you on?

    [ insert list of Apple creations here]

    I think you’ll find Apple has produced far more innovations than ALL the other Wintel box builders out there!

    So they have just done an incrimental upgrade this time - but the prices have dropped.

    Ratty had this to say on Jan 28, 2003 Posts: 5
  • I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV.  I do, however, know that when you’re bleeding freely, the first thing you do is stop the bleeding.  Once you’ve stabilized the wound, then you can begin fixing the damage. 

    It’s the same for computer companies.  The G4 tower and accompanying monitors were excessively over prices and under powered.  Since Apple isn’t yet ready to fix the power problem, they addressed the only component of the problem the can fix – the price.  Anyone who’s stuck their finger in the wind over the last six months knows that the IBM 64 bit chips are coming but they’re not ready for prime time yet.  These price drops will keep Apple in the game until the new chips arrive – and when they do, assuming they’re as fast as everyone says they are, Apple will be right back in lead.

    Dan had this to say on Jan 28, 2003 Posts: 1
  • Actually, you are completely wrong about Apples lack of innovation. Read up on the facts then pull or revise your article.  Apple has completely changed the motherboard in these new models. The throughput on these systems will be better than any equivalently priced PC on the market.  Apple has discarded the old motherboard architecture and inserted the Xserve architecture. This is a brilliant move on their part. It will buy them a lot of time so they can continue PowerPC 970 development.  The new cinema display is not just an incremental update either. Its higher res and has better contrast and puxel refresh rates. Sure, so you just see the numbers go up a little bit with each product refresh…but the engineering to design and manufacture that “incremental” change is measured in the thousands of man years.

    The new architecture:

    The Xserve:

    AltiVec had this to say on Jan 28, 2003 Posts: 1
  • Since whoever up there didnt insert anything, I’ll help them out. These are a few that immediately come to mind.

    Firewire 800,
    Gigabit Ethernet,
    Digital Hub Apps,
    First 17” Notebook
    Best Portable music player

    And then of course there is their most important innovation of all, the world’s first Unix operating system easy enough for anyone to use.

    coolmacdude had this to say on Jan 28, 2003 Posts: 1
  • To Hadley’s point, “Taking the car metaphor further the case design hasn’t changed much either since the blue and white G3.” 

    Why mess with a good thing? Just for the sake of making it look different? I personally think the new G4s are sleek looking in pictures but they are extremely cheap looking in person. The air vents on the front look cool in the ads but in person it looks like cheap plastic. Apple shuld listen to themselves in their new powerbook ads, “Less is more.”

    contrloptionme had this to say on Jan 29, 2003 Posts: 6
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