Well now that the infamous "iMac shortage" is upon is there is renewed discussion about the next iMac and what features is may contain. Unfortunately I believe that many are setting themselves up for future disappointment. The iMac LCD in its current form is a very cool computer but it just lacked that special something to be a huge hit like its forbearer. People marveled at its lamp like shape and gawked at its sharp and bright LCD. However after first reflection the weakness began to show. The graphics were barely adequate by industry standards at the time of launch and it wasn't the fire breather that the original iMac was in relation to the Powermac lineup( I think the original iMac was within 30Mhz or so of the Powermacs at the time of launch). Thus the iMac sales took off then them promptly slid in sales over the following quarters. What must Apple do to reinvigorate this once proud lineup?
I believe they must make the iMac a two-piece system. Consumers are a bit more computer savvy now making the benefits of an All-in-one computer a bit superfluous today. What I propose is that Apple creates a base that is distinctly not a minitower and then connects a standard DVI 17" widescreen LCD display. The DVI connection would be behind a shroud so that it looks like an integral part of the iMac3 base but a few screws would allow easy access to the actual connector. Apple would utilize a similar connector that is used on the new DVI Cinema Displays. What are the advantages of such a setup? Well it calms the fears of the buying public that a failure of the monitor or CPU means a destruction of the whole computer. It allows for future upgrade possibilities. And for Apple it allows them to reap the financial rewards of revenue generated by a monitor sale, which they crave. Yes people would ask Apple to ship a "headless" version but Apple would not do that because they realize that headless requests are made by those people who either have a current monitor they wish to use or wish to shop around for the cheapest price on a 3rd party monitor. Apple creating a two-piece system can therefore meet users halfway. If a person purchases a iMac3 but does not wish to utilize the monitor all is not lost because that monitor supports the industry standard DVI connector and thus can be sold to almost anyone with a DVI connector on his or her computer. Considering Apples design smarts and cachet, I wouldn't be surprised if you could fetch quite a nice price on eBay for these monitors if push came to shove.
Next pricing. Forget a $999 iMac. The eMac is solid at that price point and it would make no sense for Apple to create that competition. Therefore I think we'll see something akin to this:
PowerPC G5 1.6Ghz
17" Widescreen LCD with built in speakers.
256MB RAM/120GB HD
AGP 8X upgradeable graphics(Base 128MB)
Digital I/O, 10/100/1000
8X DVD-R burner
PowerPC G5 1.4Ghz
15" LCD with built in speakers
256MB RAM/ 80GB HD
AGP 8x upgradeable graphic(Base 64MB)
Digital I/O, 10/100/1000
8X DVD Burner
Again a two piece design so that you have flexibility in placement or you can swap out the LCD someday. Nice coverage between eMac at $799 and $999 segueing to iMac3 15" at $1299 and 17" at $1599. Now these systems would get peoples attention.