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Interview With iMac designer, Jonathan Ive 556

rleyton writes "The Independent has an interesting interview with Jonathan Ive, the designer of the new imac (and the iBook, the iPod and original iMac...)" It's actually a pretty interesting even if you think the new iMac is repulsive. Personally I dig it.
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Interview With iMac designer, Jonathan Ive

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  • Good read (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MaxVlast ( 103795 ) <maxim@[ ].to ['sla' in gap]> on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:29PM (#2836473) Homepage
    Ive is a neat guy -- his work is pretty darned innovative -- more, I think, than people give Apple credit for. There are a lot of breakthrough aspects of most of their recent products.

    Even if you don't like the stuff, it isn't the same derivative crap that has flooded the rest of the market.
    • A good interview though
  • new iMAC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grovertime ( 237798 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:31PM (#2836478) Homepage
    that's cool. i really like the design of the new iMac and think most folks complaining about it will be using a clone of it in 6 months. my question is why won't iMac treat audio with a little more repsect, and only service the visual (why didn't anyone ask the designer about that)? i'd like to see an iMac system that didn't require the user to buy external speakers just to hear anything remotely close to reaching the low end sounds we've come to love in our hip-hop, funk and satanic bible thumper rally music.
    • Re:new iMAC (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nomadic ( 141991 )
      most folks complaining about it will be using a clone of it in 6 months.

      Actually, most folks complaining about it will stick with their ugly beige monstrosities. I'm fairly certain most people blasting its appearance are just rabidly anti-mac.
    • Re:new iMAC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JPRelph ( 519032 ) <> on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:38PM (#2836515) Homepage
      Because building decent speakers into a small design is pretty impossible. It comes with one speaker built into the housing, and the middle and high end models come with some reasonable sounding separate Harmon Kardon speakers. The fact is that most people will be quite happy with the sound that comes as standard, and the people that aren't happy with it are likely to have a decent stereo system to plug the iMac into anyway. You can't satisfy the budget conscious and the audiophile at once, so you might as well deal with the budget conscious and let those who want the best sound set up their own stuff, which they'll no doubt be much happier with.
    • Re:new iMAC (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chester Abecrombe ( 549881 ) <> on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:41PM (#2836539)
      I think the emphasis in the new iMac was on style and size. The designers were trying to make it as compact as reasonably possible. A decent subwoofer requires a fairly large speaker and some sort of enclosure to maximize airflow. This does not coincide with Apple's philosophy of keeping the iMac small.

      Personally, I think the decision to leave out the sub was a good one. A subwoofer can be placed under a desk or in another inconspicuous place, and Apple took that into account when designing the iMac. An integrated subwoofer would signifigantly increase the footprint of the iMac and take up valuable desk space.

      Plus, not all users are avid music listeners. The speakers that come with the iMac can adequately handle the dings and whistles from normal PC use. Not all users need a subwoofer in the first place, and including one would add to the cost of the unit.

      • Re:new iMAC (Score:2, Informative)

        by drzhivago ( 310144 )
        No iMac has ever had a subwoofer. Not even the original model.

        That's why Apple, or really Harmon-Kardon, sells a subwoofer called the iSub. The sound quality increases exponentially when you add one to an iMac. Its also probably as big as the new iMac. But at around $60 its not a bad pickup.

    • Re:new iMAC (Score:4, Informative)

      by Voline ( 207517 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:13PM (#2836734)
      I think because the digital hub is not yet fit to be the home stereo, and I don't think that it will be for awhile.

      Audio playback on a computer, at it's best, is still pretty bad. Even if you have an iSub Woofer and some fancy Altec Lansing speakers, the CD drive isn't a very good audio CD player. The sound card isn't a very good preamp or amplifier.

      If Apple were to begin adding all the hardware that would be required to make an iMac good at audio, the thing would be as big as your desk.
      As cool as iTunes and the iPod are MP3 is a lossy format, even at the highest sampling rate, it tosses out some information (=sound) from the ripped CD.

      More fundamentally, CD audio itself is "lossy" because even its sampling rate misses too much information from the original analog sound recording (most records are still originally recorded in the analog domain, then digitized).

      Until the widespread adoption of audio DVD (which stores much more information and allows for a much higher sampling rate) digital audio playback will remain inferior to analog.

      New from Apple and Harmon Kardon, the iTurntable!
  • What was your reaction when you first heard about the Wired article [] where a Belgian designer suggests Apple copied him becase he had sketches that match the new iMac online last year? His sketches are interesting because they appear to have port locations and stuff down as well.

    I know that the lead times of a project like this preclude apple from actually using his design, but when you saw the article, what was your reaction?

    Didja think it had been leaked?

    • Well, 1) this isn't an actual Slashdot interview, it's just an article linked to that's on another site...

      and 2), Vincent hasn't got a leg to stand on [], I'm afraid.

    • What was your reaction when you first heard about the Wired article [] where a Belgian designer suggests Apple copied him becase he had sketches that match the new iMac online last year?

      If you look hard enough I'm sure that you can find something similar to any new idea somewhere. There are billions of people with trillions of ideas, it's not hard to imagine that two people could have a similar idea on the same topic and even have the ideas appear in similar forums.

      Also, lets look at it this way. People have been talking about an LCD iMac for a long time. It's pretty standard for an LCD to have a long neck attached to a base. It is not hard to make the leap that it will be a lot easier to put the internals of the computer in a larger base, leaving the panel free to swing around. The hard part is the design and engineering of all the critical parts so that they work well together.

      Making a quick sketch of what this product will be is very easy and I bet that there are many people who came up with a similar design on the back of napkins. The fact is that Apple went out, did it, and are now selling it before anyone else did so.

    • Ok, I was a dumbass when I posted my message in the form of an interview question. Mea culpa, I didn't read the text above close enough.

      HOWEVER, I _did_ say that 'a project like this preclude apple from actually using his design' which means (for those people responding my original message that were too dumb to understand) "I KNOW YOU DID NOT COPY HIM". The purpose of my post was to ask what he THOUGHT about the guys claims.

      My post was hardly flamebait, but the jackasses that modded it such + those that responded to my message believing I was saying apple had copied this guy = a bunch of darn jackasses.


  • by Nijika ( 525558 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:34PM (#2836493) Homepage Journal
    This may have been the best trick of all. Forget the round motherboard or the pivoting head. This guy and his team kept the whole thing under pretty tight lip for almost two years!
  • by tenzig_112 ( 213387 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:35PM (#2836501) Homepage

    SAN FRANSISCO, CALIFORNIA- Instead of stuffing old iMac guts in a new candy-colored shell, Apple has stuffed their old iMac guts into a candy-shaped shell, specifically a Hershey's Kiss.

    Optional iShade will be available in Q2 2002.

    Itroducing iLamp: pl ay=20020108
  • by toupsie ( 88295 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:38PM (#2836513) Homepage
    Granted, the new iMac is beautiful on the surface. But that great design is not limited to the outer shell. Check out what the iMac looks like on the inside []. This Apple draft service manual has great pictures of the guts of the iMac.
    • by gorillasoft ( 463718 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:51PM (#2836595)
      Did anyone else notice that if you open up the bottom of the unit for service, you have to reapply thermal paste to prevent excess heat from damaging components? That is the first case I have ever seen where opening it requires adding more thermal paste.

      Granted, it doesn't require more paste if you only open the hatch to the RAM and wireless card, but it does if you actually open the case itself.

      See page 12 in the manual:

      Replacement Note: Whenever the bottom housing is opened for service, you must clean
      and reapply thermal paste to the surfaces joining the thermal interface layer. Failure to
      reapply this paste could cause the computer to overheat and possibly damage the internal
      components. Refer to the next topic, "Thermal Paste Application" for detailed information.
      • All the user upgradable components (memory, airport) are easily accessed and don't require thermal paste. It's only if you want to get into the serious guts of the machine. This is because of the internal power supply, which was a high demand item from cube users.

  • This interview touches on a few concepts that I think today's geeks (and many of yesterday's geeks too) are no longer in touch with.

    Quality. Art. The "soul" of a machine.

    There is something to be said for the amount of sheer human effort put in to designing a product like this. A Quality product shines in it's attention to human-machine interaction, but is a result of "inner beauty". For those of you who haven't programmed using Cocoa or haven't messed around much with OS X or actually seen and used a recent iMac in person, there's no substitute for the tangible results of Apple's years of dedication.

    When I use Mac OS X, I can *feel* that somewhere in Cupertino there's an English major who was losing sleep at nights trying to make the text in the dialog boxes as clear and understandable as possible. When was the last time you felt that way about the latest d/l off of sourceforge?

    The subject/object duality is something that premeates the "geek world" - I beg of the programmers and techs out there try to move beyond it. Apple's certainly tried to.

    (I'd post more, but I haven't had my coffee yet... )
    • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:50PM (#2836589)
      When I use Mac OS X, I can *feel* that somewhere in Cupertino there's an English major who was losing sleep at nights trying to make the text in the dialog boxes as clear and understandable as possible. When was the last time you felt that way about the latest d/l off of sourceforge?

      ...or Slashdot for that matter.
    • When was the last time you felt that way about the latest d/l off of sourceforge?

      You get what you pay for.

    • by edremy ( 36408 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:07PM (#2836703) Journal

      When I use Mac OS X, I can *feel* that somewhere in Cupertino there's an English major who was losing sleep at nights trying to make the text in the dialog boxes as clear and understandable as possible. When was the last time you felt that way about the latest d/l off of sourceforge?

      While I agree about SourceForge, OSX is a step down from OS9 in dialog box text (and help in general).

      For example, I just love the error "No file services are available at the URL . Try again later or try another URL (server returned error 1)" OSX returns this when it can't connect to an SMB share no matter what the actual reason. Wrong password? Invalid user? No such share? Everything gets the same error.

      Worse, the MacOSX Help files are nicely written, but there are so few of them that help is very close to useless. It will tell you how to copy a file, but for anything more complex you're basically SOL.

      Still, compared to the average Open Source app, they're amazing.


      • I generally agree with you about the paucity of on-disk help files for Mac OS X (there's lot more info in the Knowledge Base), Mac OS 9 wasn't any more of a paragon of informative error messages. Witness the super-helpful 'Sorry, the application "Internet Explorer'" unexpectedly quit because an error of type [1, 2, or 3] occurred.'

        Now *I* know that was probably an out of memory error or an extension conflict, but that comes from a lot of reading and experience. The average user calls someone like me and says words to the effect of 'WTF?!'
    • I beg of the programmers and techs out there try to move beyond it.

      First, let all the people who write apps swear an oath that they will forevermore document what they create to a high standard. If this is a start, then the cooler boxes may follow, perhaps in the next generation.

      That new internet coputer based on Mozilla is a glimpse of what this "next generation" could look like.

      No one is compelled to put up with "bland boxes" and "difficult" software like the notorius Mplayer, or any of the other "break it to find out how it works" stuff. There are other options. If you have the time/brains/cash.

      Undocumented software, wires everywhere, bespoke systems. This is part of the culture. If one cant live with this, then one can to go to the places where everything is made beautifuly and beautifully easy.

      I loved the part of the article about Gateway being on the ropes. The solution for them is clear; get a world class deigner in house to revamp and vitalize the product range, and then customize one of the advanced Linux distributions, brand it, and ship every product with it without exception.

      They would then have something to offer the public, something to fire the imagination... and it might even be cheaper in the stores since they dont have to pay royalties for the OS.
  • by CDWert ( 450988 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:39PM (#2836529) Homepage
    As posted above even if you dont like his stuff, its different, there are some things I do and dont like, But he seems to be one of the few designers that takes any amount of function into account.

    Personally I dont like the new Imac, BUT that really dosent mean SQUAT since Im not a prospective customer. Ill stick with the UltraSparcs.

    What matters is Mac people do, and they liked the original, and the I book, I have used both and I can say I came closer than EVER to buying a Apple for the Wife, Part of that was the integrated packaging, part of it "ease of use" etc.

    If they almost had me hooked after my last Apple experience (I bought a Lisa when they were new :()
    Im sure they wont have a problem hooking people in.

    Does it remind anyone else of their home-ec project gone awary , a slunk of dough , then sticking a pencil in it with a sign, (insert team name here) RULE ! ??? No wonder I failed HomeEc....
  • 20 pounds? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by foyle ( 467523 )
    The article says the new iMac weighs 20 pounds. That seems rather heavy to me.

    Has anyone picked one up yet? Does it actually weigh that much?
    • Some (older) laptops weight around 15 and that is without the power supply. Here you have stainless steel, instead of plastic, and a power supply. I'm think 20lbs sounds about right. As someone pointed out, most monitors weight more than 30 or 40lbs.
  • by Uttles ( 324447 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (selttu)> on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:41PM (#2836535) Homepage Journal
    "The thing is, it's very easy to be different, but very difficult to be better. That's what we have tried to do with the new iMac."

    Personally, I like the new iMac. Not enough to abandon my 6 month old PC and switch back to Macs, but I think it's a pretty cool computer. No matter what your opinion of Macintosh or their employees is, you have to like what the designer said. So many times in this industry (think about all Microsoft products) people forget that it's easy to make new and different things, the hard part is making reliable, efficient products that truly are "better." I say score one for Macintosh with this new computer, and even if it doesn't sell like hotcakes, they are in good shape if they all think like this guy does.
  • by Hollinger ( 16202 ) <> on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:47PM (#2836578) Homepage Journal
    Say what you may about the new machine, but I've already purchased one for my parents. It's the logical next step, since my father's got an obscenely expensive AV center, and a nice Sony DV camcorder, all of which he set up himself, yet refuses to check his own e-mail because of some ingrained fear of computers being as hard to use as they were 10 years ago. I'm betting this machine will change that for him.
    • by CMiYC ( 6473 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:19PM (#2836776) Homepage
      My mother is a couple of years over 50. Up until a few months ago, her computer at work was still DOS based. So I tried giving her a couple of different computers that ran Windows 95. I spent more time talking her through things than she actually spent using it herself. Everyday something new confused her. So, in a desprete attempt, I decided to give her my old Performa. It was a basterdly slow machine. Once I showed her how to connect to the internet, her only complaint/issue came 3 weeks later.

      "Son, I have to reset the clock everytime it turns on." So I started explaining how to do that on a Mac... She interrupted me and said "No Son, I know how to do that. I don't know how to fix it. It says something about its battery." Realizing she had jumped in useability, I decided for Christmas this year (she had the other one for 1 or 2) to get her a used iMac. She's very happy with how much faster it is. Of course, now that it doesn't run slow, I'm being bombarded with Instant Messages, Emails, and pretty looking weekly Cookbooks from her. Maybe for mother's day I'll look into the new iMac. Then I can play with it for a while too.
  • by Catiline ( 186878 ) <> on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:49PM (#2836585) Homepage Journal
    ...toward having computers that you don't notice anymore. I would love to have a computer that wasn't subject any manifestation of 'beige box syndrome'. Unforunately, what I think of as beige box syndrome includes connecting cables from mouse (keyboard, monitor, scanner, network hub, etc) to computer, not just visual astetics. One look behind my desk at home (or the office) shows just what I worry about. Sure, you can bundle the cables together, but even then they make an auful mess.

    My dream computer is one that stands out while I activly interact with it, but when I'm not using it seamlessly blends right into the background. Kindof the way the computer works on Star Trek. While we're still years away from having this concept being actively sold to the consumer (though all the pieces seem to be falling into place), in the past few years I have considered Macs ever more seriously when thinking about new computers (and know that now, with WinXP, if&when I succumb to the lure of a laptop, it will be an iBook- unless Linux has become the dominant x86 OS in the interim).
    • I totally agree. Computers should be a totally natural extension of our environment, a la Capt. Picard saying "Computer", as he walks along the corridor. The closest I've seen is the POS/watron systems in use in the Applebees rest. chain. Any other examples?

      • by smagoun ( 546733 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @02:08PM (#2837079) Homepage
        Andy Inhatko wrote a column that's floating around online about how he wired his house with omnidirectional microphones plugged into his mac. He wrote a few Applescripts, downloaded a few more, and now he can control his computer from anywhere in the house.

        "Andy, you have new mail"
        "Is it important?"
        (computer looks up the sender in a list of ppl that Andy has designated as 'important')
        "Read it to me"
        (computer reads Andy the email)

        It's not that hard to do with the Mac's 5 year old speech recognition tools.

        While there's a fair amount of setup required and it's not a universal solution (the computer can only respond to predefined queries), it's pretty damn cool. I've set up something similar with my macs, and it's enough to make people say, "whoa".
        • He wrote a few Applescripts, downloaded a few more, and now he can control his computer from anywhere in the house.

          I played around with the same thing. The one problem I had was when I said" "Computer play classical music" (which would launch iTunes the desired playlist) that was the last command I could give it. Once it was playing music it would get confused by it's own audio output. I would think that would be a pretty easy thing to fix - just have the computer cancel out it's own output when processing audio input. Unfortunately Apple does not seem so interested with speech recognition - which is too bad, with their control over hardware and software they could probably put together a machine with a very powerful speech UI.
  • Spelling (Score:3, Redundant)

    by gorilla ( 36491 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:49PM (#2836588)
    Shouldn't it be spelt iVe?
    • Re:Spelling (Score:4, Funny)

      by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @03:13PM (#2837525) Homepage
      Personally I keep slipping into the thought that it's a first person recounting, what with all the things like "Ive designed it as small as possible to maximise the distance from screen to CPU" and "Ive anonymously paced the show floor, watching people's reactions". Betcha the writer had to turn off the Auto Correct in his word processor to keep it from adding an apostrophe in the name, too.

  • Admittedly it is a cool design, but I can't help feeling once again, that NO ONE is out there designing anything targeted at me and I'm left to hunt for obscure parts vendors and try to cobble together something that appeals to me.

    Personally I'd just like some more variety in the choices available to me, especially if that means machines that fit in seamlessly with my existing home electronics.
  • by certron ( 57841 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:56PM (#2836637)
    OK, so I borrowed the 'Lump - Stick - Rectangle' from somewhere else. :-)
    I don't understand how people can be so critical of this. It is truly innovative, with a 700-800MHz G4 packed into the small package (as well as 128MB of RAM and a GeForce2 card.) The only things I don't like are the price, and the screen size. Still, it's a marvelous piece of engineering and design. If you need something else to like about it, take a gander at all the ports in the back. Definitely impressive.

    Don't like it? don't buy it. But at least acknowledge the craftsmanship and vision.

    (No, I am not affected by the reality distortion field... otherwise I would have put down the money and bought one, and not seen any shortcomings. :-)
  • What I'd ask (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jchristopher ( 198929 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:57PM (#2836645)
    I'd love to ask Jonathan why they've chosen to use a proprietary dongle connector for VGA-out on both the iBook and the new iMac.

    Frankly, this is the dumbest design decision ever. If you're trying to make a "simple" computer, why use a dongle that consumers will most certainly forget or lose? What could be more simple than the same connector used on 99% of the world's personal computers?

    This is extra stupid, since there is plenty of space to put a standard VGA-out connector on both systems. Additionally, making a custom port and dongle adds to the cost of an already expensive computer.

    I'm all for design improvements, but there is no point being proprietary just for the sake of being different.

    • Re:What I'd ask (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mblase ( 200735 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:12PM (#2836727)
      What could be more simple than the same connector used on 99% of the world's personal computers?

      How about not using any connector at all, and simply sticking with the flat panel display that comes with the iMac and iBook?

      There's no good reason for Apple to waste space on a computer designed to be as small as possible to hook a second monitor up to what's supposed to be, and this is important, a consumer PC. Pros and developers need second monitors. Consumers almost never do.
    • I'm all for design improvements, but there is no point being proprietary just for the sake of being different.

      Ahh, but there is. It may not be a survival reason but there is one nontheless: protecting your interests.

      Take the IBM-cloning of the 80's and 90's. Apple didn't dive into that because they wanted Apple to mean a level of quality that THEY controlled. It may have led to smaller market share, but to a company like Apple that was secondary to protecting the Apple image and level of design quality they now enjoy as REPUTATION in the industry.

      I don't think it's hard to see that they wouldn't have this luxury had they opened up some Apple-cloning licensing scheme like IBM did.

      Oh, and anther thing: where is the IBM PC today? Dead.
    • Re:What I'd ask (Score:3, Informative)

      by dhovis ( 303725 )
      I actually own an iBook (a 12" DVD model), and I can tell you that there is not room for a full size VGA port on this thing. All the available space is taken up by the DVD, battery, HD, the screen hinge, or the ports (modem/ethernet/firewire/usb/usb/miniVGA/headphone -video). If you switched the miniVGA port to a full size port, then the ports would intrude into the space where the HD is.

      Besides which, screwing a VGA connector on is a PITA on a laptop. With this design, you can screw the adapter onto the monitor cable and then just plug it in. Apple provides the adaptor and it is as easy to plug and unplug as a USB or Firewire cable.

  • by bbum ( 28021 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:57PM (#2836646) Homepage
    Re: the guy that had the sketches of a similar iMac last summer.

    If he even remotely claims Apple 'stole' his ideas, he should be laughed off the face of the planet.

    Consider the incredible number of conceptual drawings and sketches about possible new iMac designs that have made the rounds in the last two years. Combine that with the fact that every computer needs a spot for ports, a display, and something to contain the cpu/drives/ram/etc. Now, combine that with the industrial design directions Apple set by announcing the death of the CRT [last may @ WWDC, I believe] and the icebook/tibook look and feel.

    All told, it is no surprise that *one* of the myriad concept sketches that appeared on the net look similar! As innovative as Apple is, they have yet to be able to entirely break the bonds of reality (i.e. say, a completely detached floating display).

    As well, the guy *sent* his concept sketches to Apple-- including to Steve Jobs. Apple's policy on such matters is quite clear; anything submitted becomes the property of Apple and they can do whatever they bloody well please with it-- including giving it to a competitor, if they saw fit to do so.
  • by franksbiyatch ( 227234 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @12:58PM (#2836651)

    Submitted for your approval, an Onion-like story on the subject:
    Honey I Melted The iMac []

    The picture of the iMac with a lamp shade on it is worth the click.

  • The Lump (Score:2, Redundant)

    by bill.sheehan ( 93856 )
    I like Macs. I really do. I'm particularly partial to the all-in-one models. I've got an SE and an SE/30, and I bought the original Bondi Blue iMac the day they went on sale. So when I heard about this new iMac, I was excited. The pictures were tantalizing, but the thing that really thrilled me were the specs. There's an awful lot under the hood! Last Friday, I visited my local Apple Store to see this baby for myself. A small scheming portion of my mind was already wondering if Uncle Sam's Tax Return might defray the costs of a new computer. And then I saw it. I was deeply disappointed. It's ugly. It's clunky. The picture made it look light and airy, but in person it looked like a heavy white lump with an oversized nickel-plated pipe connecting a flat panel in a big lucite frame. (What is it with Apple and white plastic, anyway? Does Ives live in a house without dust and grubby-fingered kids?) There's no accounting for taste, and I may be an uncircumcised philistine with aesthetic sense, but I've never had such a negative reaction to a computer before. Maybe the next one... "Botticelli ain't a wine, you dolt! It's a cheese!"
  • Jobs... (Score:4, Funny)

    by st0rmshad0w ( 412661 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:02PM (#2836673)
    Somehow Jobs' remarks always seem to jumpstart my brain, if nothing else. Of the first iMac he said "It looks like it's from another planet". And oddly enough my first reaction to the new iMac after reading the article was "Hey, its a skutter holding an LCD!". That makes alot more sense if you've ever seen Red Dwarf.
  • This actually started me thinking about Compaq. Not today's company, but the company 5 or 10 years ago. They used to be a huge amount of thought into their computers, trying to make them the best they could be. You know what happened?

    I freaking despised them.

    Yes, they were well built. Yes, they managed to typically squeeze another 5-10% performance over their competitors. But to do all that, very often they used non-standard components. They had wacky partitions on the hard drives that for extra management functions. I believe they even had special "Compaq memory" (I could be misremembering the latter).

    It was a total pain in the ass, and for many components there was only one place to go: Compaq, and the parts were very expensive.

    I'm all in favor of better, but when it comes to computers, I think I would rather have better AND standard AND reasonably priced. The thing about Apple is that they don't make computers for "the rest of us", they make computers for the 3% of the population who like shopping at boutiques.

    • Actually, I forgot to finish the story. Compaq started losing HUGE marketshare, and they finally took out big ads saying that wacky hardware was a thing of the past. They realized that their customer base didn't want wacky hardware.

    • The thing about Apple is that they don't make computers for "the rest of us", they make computers for the 3% of the population who like shopping at boutiques.

      ... and people who don't need to update their hardware every year, which is almost everyone that DOESN'T read this web site.

      Geez, don't you guys have relatives with 5 year old computers they've never upgraded because "they don't have to"? This is the AVERAGE PC user. This is the "big" market. Not the geek market. The geek market can keep using big, clunky grey boxes for all Apple cares. The truth is that the geek market is too damn fast for Apple, and that's fine for both parties.

      As for everyone else, Apples make great computers. Their design may make them boutiquish, but if you take a closer look you'll see a computer that is truly designed with the mass market in mind.

      It's too bad the geeks are still advising their relatives to get ugly grey boxes when they could be getting a much more user-friendly experience.

      Sometimes a geek has to put himself in computer-ignorant shoes!
    • What non-standard components are you talking about?

      Everything in the iMac except the screen, the OS, and the motherboard, is a conventional, PC useable component.
    • by helixblue ( 231601 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:56PM (#2837004) Homepage
      Having unfortunately dealt with Compaq, I wholeheartedly agree with your assesment on Compaq. I also now own a PowerMac G4 (I'm a UNIX-head who caught the MacOS X bug).

      There luckilly is a big difference between the Compaq's you speak of and the Apple's of today. The biggest difference is that you don't *see* the wackiness. Since
      Apple both does the BIOS, and the OS, no nasty hack like hidden partitions or weird NT drivers to get things to work properly.

      Unlike the Compaq of the past, Apple doesn't try to make every peice of the pie either. Apple doesn't try to do stuff like make video cards, NIC's, or FUBAR SmartRAID cards. They leave that to other folks. My G4 has a Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet chipset, a normal Geforce2MX, and some outsourced sound chipset. It takes normal PC133 DIMM's, etc. They've learned to outsource & standardize a lot more since Jobs has come aboard. Sun does now too more, but they still manage some of the items on their own (Sun GigE 2.0).

      Apple just makes sure that everything works together nicely. From the case, to the chipset, to the BIOS, and to the OS level. They do a beautiful job at it too.

      P.S.: I've got a Compaq Proliant 4xPPRO 200 at home. Guess what it's used for? A TV stand (it's covered by a black sheet). I hate those machines with a passion.
      • by Frater 219 ( 1455 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @06:44PM (#2838767) Journal
        Since Apple both does the BIOS, and the OS, no nasty hack like hidden partitions or weird NT drivers to get things to work properly.

        Funny you should mention that. Actually, as you'll discover if you ever install Linux on a Mac, there are several "hidden partitions". These include:

        • The partition map itself (type Apple_partition_map0
        • Two or more partitions to hold the disk drivers (type Apple_Driver_ATA)
        • One for the I/O Kit drivers (type Apple_Driver_IOKit)
        • One for firmware patches (type Apple_Patches)
        • One for the boot loader (type Apple_Bootstrap)
        • One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne (type Apple_Ring1 ... er, just kidding.)

        Those are what I've discovered on a single Macintosh (Blue & White G3 model) which had been running Mac OS 9 and onto which I'd installed Debian. I'm sure there are even more on a modern system with Mac OS X. And no, the Mac doesn't use the PC partition format with its "primary" vs. "logical" limitations.

        Thing is, you're mostly right ... in Mac OS itself, you never have to worry about these things.

  • OSX (Score:2, Funny)

    by Walrus99 ( 543380 )
    OSX + iTunes Visuals + "Dark Side of the Moon" = Transcendence
  • LCD iMacs & Apple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DanV ( 391300 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:15PM (#2836749) Homepage
    The trouble with LCD iMacs is the education market. Schools don't buy iMacs just because they are cheaper than iBooks, they buy them because they are more durable.The abuse that a computer takes in a school setting is enough to make me cringe.
    Still, I like the idea of having a LCD iMac. It would be cool for me, I'm just not sure that it will work in the education market. (Yeah, I know. Maine bought 38,600 iBooks recently. Still, most schools buy iMacs.)

    Despite that,are we facing an Apple come back?
    Think about what they've done in the past couple years:

    - Nice hardware, growing in leaps and bounds as the market for those things matures (pc133, yes it was late, and yes, it's slower than DDR, but hey, better than pc100), nice processors, removing all relic hardware as necessary (USB instead of ADB, etc). Apple has always done this.
    - Making the powerbook g4 was the next step, making a laptop just slightly less powerful than a desktop, *AND* has a battery life to speak of.
    - Nice software: OS X. BSD core. No need for them to figure out how to reinvent the wheel with their crappy old OS's--Simply change a few widgets, and call it Darwin, then add a GUI, and Voila! instant OS. With a *LOT* of software available, not to mention the 20 billion BSD hackers, the people that'll keep the Darwin OS up to snuff.
    - Totally reengineered interface--Finally a command line that doesn't suck! And for that matter, a GUI that doesn't suck! And multitasking! And all sorts of neat widgets that make techies and non-techies alike scream out "I WANT ONE!"
    - Giving computers to schools, making great leaps in hardware, standardizing their video system. I see this as a incredibly brilliant move for Jobs.

    All in all, more power to them... They may live, they may struggle, or they may die. They are pushing the user's into a whole new realm; DVD-
    R's in affordable systems, laptops that don't suck, and keeping up with technology a lot better than they used to.
    • They kept the base original iMac, dropped the price to $799. Then they took the second original iMac, and dropped the price to $999. Difference is in cpu speed, memory, and hard drive.

      So, they still have the durable iMac CRT for those that need it.
  • Anglepoise (Score:5, Informative)

    by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:18PM (#2836766) Journal
    But a white dome? When we meet, one website is already calling the new design "a computer for the Anglepoise generation". Ive laughs. "But I've never seen an Anglepoise that stays where you put it. They sway in the breeze. To stay stationary is very difficult to do. And then you have to do the testing to make sure that it will stay straight for years. And we've done that. Oh, sure."

    Need to look that one up? Me too. The Anglepoise [] table lamp, modeled on the muscles and bones of human limbs, was invented by George Carwardine in 1933. You know your standard adjustable desk lamp? That's an Anglepoise-derived design.

  • I've been going back and forth on the new iMac myself - disliked it at first but have been coming around lately (esp. after hearing Ive's arguments) -

    Observing the public reaction, it is clear that like its predecessor it is destined to invade and fully occupy the public imagination for the next couple of years. Bully for Apple, and for Ive. And it will be perfect for my parents.

    But what I've realized I'd personally like most is just the detached hub. I'll buy my own flat-screen thank you (maybe an Apple Cinema display). I don't need more than one viewing angle and I'd rather put the hub itself off towards the back of the desk. Just need the LCD, keyboard, mouse/trackball and speakers up front.

    I hope they're planning on releasing this iHub on its own, some time soon. It would be a sweet machine - short on expandability, but as this NYT article points out [], at a better price point (and a helluva lot more aesthetic) than the G4 towers.


  • The new iMac is like Bang & Olufsen stereo components. It's a really artistic vision of technology yet, when compared to the competition, it is overpriced for the performance that it offers.

    I see the new iMac as being a fashion accessory or a lifestyle statement rather than a serious computer. It will be seen in chic, modern, (pretentious) apartments, sharing space with the aforementioned Bang & Olufsen stereos, wall-hanging plasma display televisions, and expensive, but unused, Questar telescopes.

    I'm a function over form kind of guy. I'd rather have a normal enclosure and a motherboard with lots of standard expansion slots so that I can expand my computer to meet my needs. I'd rather spend $300 for a 19" monitor than spend the same amount for a chic but small 15" LCD. I don't care if my PC is unattractive. It's a computer, not a girlfriend or wife.
  • White dome only?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:23PM (#2836800)
    I think the insides of this iMac must look really cool, so it makes me wonder why the shell is opaque and white. Maybe they could make future models candy-colored and translucent? You probably wouldn't see too deep into the thing because it's so cramped, but it would be cool anyway. Well, just an idea...
    • There is a metal dome right below the plastic, so you wouldn't be able to see in, and under the dome is the power supply; it would be impossible to design it so that you could see the motherboard. Apple has put translucent cases right over their metal cases in the past to create an interesting effect, however, in the PMG3 for example.
  • Steve Jobs on Design (Score:5, Informative)

    by johnrpenner ( 40054 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:33PM (#2836879) Homepage


    Fortune Magazine: What has always distinguished the products of the
    companies you've led is the design aesthetic. Is your obsession with
    design an inborn instinct or what?

    Steve Jobs: We don't have good language to talk about this kind of thing.
    In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. It's interior
    decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains and the sofa. But to me,
    nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the
    fundamental soul of a man-made creation that ends up expressing itself in
    successive outer layers of the product or service. The iMac is not just
    the colour or translucence or the shape of the shell. The essence of the
    iMac is to be the finest possible consumer computer in which each element
    plays together.

    On our latest iMac, I was adamant that we get rid of the fan, because it
    is much more pleasant to work on a computer that doesn't drone all the
    time. That was not just "Steve's decision" to pull out the fan; it
    required an enormous engineering effort to figure out how to manage power
    better and do a better job of thermal conduction through the machine. That
    is the furthest thing from veneer. It was at the core of the product the
    day we started.

    This is what customers pay us for--to sweat all these details so it's easy
    and pleasant for them to use our computers. We're supposed to be really
    good at this. That doesn't mean we don't listen to customers, but it's
    hard for them to tell you what they want when they've never seen anything
    remotely like it. tm l

  • Why the dome? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Voline ( 207517 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:38PM (#2836904)
    Given how adamant they are about an all-in-one design, I couldn't understand why Apple went with a dome shape that meant that stereo speakers had to be external.

    I thought a more squarish (dare I say cube-shaped) base would have allowed for built in stereo speakers. And I think it would have looked a lot cooler than the lump base.

    The Independent interview with Ive finally explained it for me:

    'a dome is the only shape that lets the screen swivel without having "preferred" positions, maximizes stability and offers lots of horizontal space.'

    Well if lump is the most functional form for the base, then lump it is. As Ive mentions in the interview, you don't really appreciate all the subtle decisions that go into an industrial design until you start to understand all the constraints.

    I like the G4 iMac more now.
  • by berniecase ( 20853 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @01:42PM (#2836922) Homepage Journal
    I've ordered an iMac mainly because it's not much larger than the Pismo PowerBook I used to put on my desk [], compared now with the Blue & White G3 [] I have (which takes up a lot more space). Then you have the G4 under the dome, with SuperDrive, and 60GB of space and it looks like a good computer.

    I don't use my computer for gaming so much, anyway. That's what my PS2 is for. And, I'm more interested in using my computer for organizing media (pictures, mp3s, movies) and using it as my MP3 playback server using iHam on iRye. The iMac will serve this purpose very well.

    Besides, it looks great.
  • by Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Monday January 14, 2002 @03:44PM (#2837689) Homepage Journal
    EVERYTHING in the computer community (Mac or store-bought PC) is proprietary. Most people assume that "proprietary" in terms of Macintosh means "closed box" or "non-PC," and this isn't the case.

    PCs, in their ultimate basic designs, are supposed to work identically--to be a clone. A hand-built PC (like the Athlon box I just built to play what few good games which come out that aren't available for Macs, such as Age of Sail 2 [rocks] or Half Life) is great, but unless EVERYONE used the exact same motherboard and parts from the same manufacturers, they aren't strictly clones. Technically, your home-built is unique and closed to others--proprietary, because only YOU know what's inside it.

    And look at store-bought PCs, which are supposed to be clones, but each manufacturer adds a widget or two here and there to add market appeal over other competitors PCs, which also do the same. If you haven't tried to install Windows on a Compaq without using Compaq's own CDs, you have never experienced the true meaning and heartbreak of "proprietary."

    And Macs aren't even "closed box" anymore. As far as the iMac goes, Apple doesn't expect you to crack open your iMac anymore than Toastmaster expects you to crack open their toasters. It's for a logical reason (the same reason why you pay a bit more for a Macintosh): Everything you need is already there, from the laptops to the desktops (extra RAM and maybe drive space included). Thinking a Mac is proprietary is like thinking that your Porsche needs a V8 and one of those Calvin-pissing-on-a-BMW logos.

    With the exception of the logic board (motherboard), open a Power Mac desktop and you'll find the same Matrox IDE drives, the same nVidia video, the same SDRAM, and similar expandability. The only difference (OS aside) is that the computer is integrated with finer quality than that $50 ATX motherboard we grabbed from "Chips-R-Us." That's what we pay for.

    If you use Linux (and I know most of us do), we experience the sheer hell of PC propriety every time we try to install an OS on a store-bought system that's been modified to work with Microsoft Windows and not for any other OS, period.

    Remember the old days where every computer maker made a PC and their own OS? Only Apple does that now for mere mortals (Sun, SGI, and other unique non-Windows PCs excluded but acknowledged). Makes me still wish someone would make a PC designed only for the ultimate Geek--the Unix family user, to end this argument.

System checkpoint complete.