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by Andrew Welch

[Andrew on Harley]

iMac Musings

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not exactly smitten with the iMac's appearance. For the two of you who haven't heard of the iMac yet, it's a new all-in-one g3-powered computer from Apple, that looks like it was designed by an extraterrestrial whose tastes lean towards the tacky. The iMac is targeted toward the novice/home user, so it's easy to use, comes with gobs of bundled software, yet it's quite fast and powerful. Sounds like a great combination--even if its green and white translucent casing or VW Bug-esque styling doesn't do it for you.

To me, it's about as stylish as a purple polyester suit, as I've so eloquently noted before (subtlety is indeed a lost art). However, I'll also be the first to admit that my tastes don't exactly mesh with that of mainstream America (actually, I'd probably be the second to admit that--I think Michelle would beat me to the punch on it). After all, when's the last time you saw Frank Zappa on Billboard's charts?

Most of the people to whom I show pictures of the iMac too--most importantly, people who don't currently own a computer--have a very positive reaction to the styling. It's definitely different looking. If you haven't seen a picture of the iMac before, without further ado, here we are:

I think it's a spiffy little machine--it's fast, it's easy to use, it fits in better at home than a stodgy old grey tower, and most importantly, it was designed from the ground up to be for people who don't own a computer already (or as a second computer for little Johnny).

I think the combination of style, power, ease of use, cutting edge features, and reasonable price will result in the iMac doing quite well, thank you. Two friends of mine, Kevin and Paris, are interested in getting a computer. They're just a few years out of college, they've never owned a computer before (they've never had a pressing need), and they're looking for something to surf the web, read eMail, do online checking, light word processing, enter secret family cooking recipes, etc.

The first thing that came to my mind was that an iMac would be an absolutely perfect machine for them. It's a small all-in-one unit, so it won't clutter their apartment, and you don't need cables dangling all over the place like orphaned spaghetti. It's styled in a way that's suited well for a home (even if it isn't my cup of tea). It comes bundled with all the software they're likely to use in the next several years (Web, eMail, word processing, database, finances, etc.). It's also extremely Internet-ready, easy to use, and it's a smokin' fast machine to boot.

The real key there is that it's a machine that is easy enough to use that they'll actually get good use out of it. Forget about the features, the styling, the bundled software, the price point, etc. Those are the things that help *sell* the computer in the first place; now let's talk about what happens when they get it home. No matter how stuffed with stuff it comes, if they aren't able to use it effectively, even pleasurably, what's the point? This isn't a knock towards them, either: they are both very intelligent people, they just would sensibly rather use a computer to aid their life rather than having their life be dedicated to learning how to use the plastic and silicon beast.

That's the best thing about the iMac -- in addition to all of the excellent features it sports, it's also incredibly easy to use. That means people who purchase one of these trendy new toasters will actually be able to use them -- they won't be blinking 12:00.

I hope Apple sells a ton of 'em.

[Andrew's Signature]

Andrew Welch
Ambrosia Software, Inc.

PS Check out the cool ideas the iMac is sparking from the likes of Rich -- these kinds of truly personal computers should kick a marketer's glands into overdrive:

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