Another Macworld, another update
By FrontLine Lamb (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 31, 2001
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So what does one of the MacEdition staff who also happens to be a reseller think of the latest from Macworld/New York? Glad you asked.
Us dealers – like you users – hoped, prayed, begged and made small animal sacrifices to petty gods for new and exciting Mac products to be released. (No actual animals were harmed during the making of this column.) Well, maybe we needed to sacrifice larger animals this time. Those petty gods (Steve, Jon, Avie, etc.) didn’t cough up much to satisfy us mere mortals.
Let’s break this down to the good, the bad and the ugly.
Mac OS X.1. (X.I? Did the Romans have decimals? And nobody but Apple calls it Mac OS X ten-point-one.) Finally, a real version of X that customers can run real applications on like Office, Adobe applications and the dreaded Quark. Once Apple and third-party developers deliver, we can start upgrading apps for people on their business and production Macs. And upgrade that Mac hardware at the same time.
Quicksilver G4s. Okay, they just had a facelift and a speed bump – but damn, are they fast. Say what you want about the megahertz gap, but sit down with an 867MHz G4 and tell me that it’s too slow. Sure, I’d love to see Apple break the gigahertz mark sooner rather than later, but that’s just a psychological (and marketing) barrier. And if you still have money after the tech meltdown, the dual 800s are to die for. But let’s not dismiss the facelift. It does look better, and in this market, that is important. So they didn’t change the rest of the case – it’s still the best case design in the industry. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Only two Goods!
Weak iMac upgrade. Hopefully Apple will upgrade the iMacs again before the holiday selling season. If not, Santa won’t be coming for my kids this year. iMac sell-through numbers are down across the board, and now prices are up. Thank you, sir, may I have another? Is anybody impressed with a 500MHz consumer machine starting at a grand? Have you looked at those superstore flyers in your Sunday paper? Apparently Apple hasn’t. Yeah, yeah; I know the Mac is better, but perception sells, not facts.
Mac OS X.1. Hey, it can be both. The bad is that it is not ready, and judging from my hands-on experience, September is highly optimistic for getting it solid – the Macworld build would crash if you looked at it funny. Now you know why there were no hands-on 10.1 demo stations. And a free upgrade that costs $20? Hey, Apple customers will take anything, right? Right??
Margins. Ok, you the customer don’t care about our margins. But less Mac dealers can’t be a good thing. In past columns I complained about Apple’s incredible shrinking margins. Well, they did it to us again, chopping iMac and G4 margins. They keep telling us to sell more high-end pro systems. So how do they encourage us to do that? Chop our margins! Steve, do you know how much I make selling white boxes? Over twice what I make selling your boxes. Our love of the Mac platform only goes so far. To misquote The Godfather, “It’s nothing personal, Steve; it’s just business.”
The Apple Store. I’ve got one coming within spitting distance. Now Apple tells me that I should be happy about this. We are in this together to grow the brand, and all that. Hmmm. Now, think about yourself. You have two options roughly an equal distance from you. One is a store that sells the brand you are looking for, as well as other brands. The other is run by the brand you are interested in. Be honest – which one would you go to? I thought so.
Apple does go out of its way to say that it will compete fairly with us and so far I can’t complain on what it has done. Okay, maybe the Apple Store had iBooks before anybody else, but Apple said they would try to avoid that kind of thing in the future. It says that it won’t try to undersell us, get product before us or any other preferential treatment. But it is called the Apple Store. We are “John Doe’s Computer Store.” That’s not a level playing field, however you look at it. Apple Specialists may get a better shake, but there are a lot more of us general computer retailers than there are Apple Specialists.
Okay, some good, some bad and some really bad. Personally I’m hoping that Apple pulls a rabbit out its hat for the Paris Expo. A really new iMac and a stable, shipping 10.1 would be grand. Now I just have to figure out how to get Apple to pay for a ticket to Paris. It sure won’t be from the gravy I get on Apple’s margins...