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Apple Businesses

The G4 and Apple's Second Coming 432

Apple's G4, launched in a blizzard of savvy hype, heralds the second Age of Apple. Although this one is very different from the first (for one thing, Apple is a lot greedier), Apple's string of successes says a lot about the fact that individual creativity will beat out corporate marketers every single time.

Anyone who's been anywhere near true computer geeks soon comes to realize that the driving ethic behind the Internet isn't pornography, technology or money-making. It's not even freedom.

It's the yen for cool stuff - designing it, programming it, acquiring it or trying it out.

This week, Apple unveiled its Mac G4 series, somewhat exaggeratedly described as the world's first supercomputer for the desktop, with TV spots that show a G4 being encircled by Army tanks while an announcer points out that this is the first personal computer so powerful that it's been declared a military weapon (translation: the federal government has declared certain technologies off-limits to specific foreign governments, including Iran and China, because of potential military applications).

Don't worry about the Pentium chip, adds the announcer. "It's harmless."

You could practically hear countless geeks and nerds inhale sharply and breathe heavily. Judging from Web chatter on tech sites from C-Net to Linux World to Slashdot, the G4 was an instant smash. Geeks are forever on the prowl for the coolest, fastest, most powerful new thing, and the G4, clearly, is it.

In America, corporations often become cultural or even political symbols that transcend the products they make. IBM, AT&T, Ford, Linux - all are icons as much as manufacturers, programs or communications giants.

With the possible exception of Bill Gates's Microsoft, no company embodies a particular corporate approach to the digital world more than Apple Computers; no individual personifies a corporate view more than Steve Jobs.

From the early days of the boom, Gates and Jobs have been the yin and yang of the computer world: Gates is intrinsically corporate, rapacious and big, ferociously competitive, monomaniacally focused, Jobs straight out of the alternative entrepeneurial wing that saw computing as a wondrously liberating tool.

His buddy Steve Wozniak grasped almost instantly that this philosophy was unlikely to withstand the looming capitalist assault on the computer industry and bailed out. Jobs was driven from Apple, but stayed in the game, before a desperately failing company asked him back.

In conventional financial terms, Gates was by miles the more successful, becoming the global poster boy for the Long Boom and the world's richest man.

Jobs, always more quixotic and, if such a thing is possible, even more egotistical than Gates, positioned Apple as the anti-IBM, and the anti-Microsoft, each, at different times, versions of the same thing. In so doing, he created a company that brought millions (including me) into networked computing. But in a corporate sense, he fell far behind and out of grace.

Now it seems the wheel has turned again. If there's an ideology at the heart of computing, it's to be forever on the lookout for the coolest, fastest, most powerful thing. The G4 clearly, is it.

At least for a while.

Apple has been enjoying a remarkable renaissance with the runaway success of the iMac, the G3 desktop and Powerbook series, and, more recently, the iBook. The G4, from early accounts, is an impressive accomplishment, an unprecedently powerful desktop machine that costs little more than the too-cutesy, candy-colored iMacs. Because it is new and powerful, it is cool. Because it is cool, they will come.

Although substantially more powerful than the G3s they will replace, the G4's price increments are the same: $1,599 for a Mac with a 400-megahertz processor; $2,499 for 450 MH available in September, and $3,499 for 500 MH, available in October.

The G4's microprocessor, co-developed by Apple, IBM and Motorola, uses a circuit called the velocity engine, (similar to the vector processors used in supercomputers), that allows it to process 128 bits of information per cycle, compared with 32 or 64 bits in most processors. It can, according to Jobs, tackle tasks, from encrypting Net messages to processing digital video, that are beyond most ordinary PC's.

Apple's engineers and designers have again radically changed public perceptions of computing, offering machines for non-computing professionals as well as loyal Mac-adherents that are colorful, portable, powerful, easy, and/or cheerful, depending on one's tastes.

Apple has always had the strange distinction of being uncool and cool simultaneously. To legions of professionals - writers, artists, designers - the Apple was a godsend, permitting creative work while eliminating the sometimes nightmarish process of struggling with computer mechanics. To geekdom's macho wing, Apples are for ignorant wimps who use graphic interfaces to avoid ever really coming to understand how computing works. For years, no self-respecting geek would be caught dead on a Mac.

Now the G4 signals the return of an Apple Age, or at least Round Two of the original Apple Age, though it's significance may be more metaphorical than real. The new Apple doesn't allow us to think differently so much as it enables us to compute more simply and powerfully, two very different ideas. For some years, Apple alone offered individuals an alternative to corporatism. Now that mantle belongs more to the open source and free software movements. (A telling example of the new, greedier Apple ideology is that the G4 was deliberately built so that owners of the new G3 can't upgrade to it - they have to buy a new one. Doesn't sound like very different thinking after all).

The irony of the Apple story, especially for people like me, is that these machines made it possible for us to use computers, but kept us perennially ignorant about how they really worked. In my own case, this was a mixed blessing. (For the past year, I've been struggling to learn and use Linux, in many ways the antithesis of the Apple experience. It's been rough, but I'm close. I have a working Linux computer and am getting lessons in how to use it. More on that later.)

The G4 is the crowning achievement to date of the Jobs-engineered Apple comeback, because he's not only created a machine the wusses will love; he's pounded the macho geeks at their own game and exposed behemoths like IBM and Microsoft for the clunky and unimaginative entities that they are.

For all that, apart from the fact that Jobs has calmed down considerably and sports a graying beard, this second Apple Age is sadly different from the first one. Mac made its national debut (remember the famous anti-IBM ad?) during the 80s. The computer was presented as an anti-Orwellian device, a revolutionary affirmation of individual creative spirit versus corporate domination.

The Macintosh, Jobs was saying, wasn't about technology, but creativity. It wasn't about big business, but about individual aspiration. Accurate or not, lots of people fell for the line, and the Apple brought part of an entire wary generation into computing. Even the most severely technically-impaired were able to approach computing and participate.

The new Apple Age is more consumer-oriented and profit-driven, and far less honest and idealistic. You have to wonder: Is the G4 really necessary? Do people actually need a desktop that's classified as a military weapon? Or portable computers that resemble translucent toilet seats? Will this generation of Apple computers, like the first, keep affluent computer users happy, more powerful and even more ignorant?

The good news is that the resurgence of Apple is a rebuke to the way big corporations do - or don't - think. No board of directors or mega-company with squadrons of vice-presidents would have come up with the G4, or with anything like the iMac.

Apple's comeback invokes the long-ago days when companies reflected the stubborn, idiosyncratic visions of individuals, instead of the tepid, amorphous conglomerates that dominate new and old media.

If Apple may no longer lay claim to its anti-Orwellian ideological roots - always personified more by Wozniak than Jobs anyway -- it has made computing fun and accessible again, and has provided consumers with more real choices and alternatives.

For that alone, the second coming deserves to be hailed.

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The G4 and Apple's Second Coming

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I love your comment about MS being a money making machine. OF COURSE IT IS. SO IS EVERY OTHER PUBLICALLY TRADED COMPANY IN THE WORLD! If it is not a money making machine, then they can and will be SUED by the stock holders (including me!).

    Naive boy. Remember Apple and their high profit margins of the early 90s? That was really atruistic.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think that all the people that have gotten too technical and picky about the details of the article and the G4 itself. I dont think that apple was aiming their product towards hardcore techies who refuse to own a computer unless it was hand built by themselves with a custom built kernel (linux of course), cooled down to absolute zero, overclocked to 4000 petahertz, with a floppy drive. You got to understand that these kind of people (including myself) are only a very tiny part of the computer market. My personal take on the G4 is neither like or dislike, I just think that it is something 'different'. Which is probably what Apple intended it to be. You do have to give them credit for introducing neat stuff. What other computer company can make a product that can be the topic of discussion for even non-techies. Ive heard my non-techie friends talking about Apple products and when I look at it through their eyes, I realize how great Apple technologies really are.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    First of all you would never execute a vector instruction on every tick. Even RISC can't be that effecient...your premise and the following math are absurd. The 128 bit wide bus is beneficial simply because it can keep the processor saturated. Not to mention most vector calculations are repetitive in nature and benefit from a large cache. The G4 has healthy on-chip caches as well as a 1 MB L2 cache (2x PIII, etc.) Even better, Altivec (Velocity Engine) executes separately from the other logic units on the chip core. MMX stole cycles from floating point, etc. Well you know the story. Best yet, apps and system software (read Linux too) can benefit from Altivec by a simple recompile. Yee ha. In case you haven't noticed Code Warrior runs on Linux now. It is nice technology. Do you really want the world to run on one hardware platform? Your narrow minded, Intel PCs at all costs, world view is terrifying in its simplicity. Try another platform at least once in your life. It might prepare you for the one day you realize there are certainly equal, and maybe better alternatives out there in the big, bad world. You obviously fear what you don't understand.
  • Sun and Apple are not competing in the same market at all. Sun sells workstations and servers for "serious computing", Apple sells computers for end-users. Anyone who considers a Mac and a Sun Ultra alternatives for the same kind of computing use are crazy. Unless they're planning to replace MacOS on the Mac, but that is not the market Apple are after.
  • I read it the first time. I just wanted to point out that the comparison of Sun and Apple ads makes about as much sense as comparing Ford and Boeing ads, i.e. none at all. That's all. I could have been clearer about that in my original post, I suppose.
  • Sort of indicative of many of the people that buy the things. Braggarts who, when someone says something they disagree with, break out the name-calling kit. It's truly sad to see.

    - A.P.

    "One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

  • There are many different types of creativity. What I'm assuming you're talking about is the artsy/desktop publishing type creativity (if I'm wrong about you, please let me know) that is popular among Mac people and is really the reason Apple exists as a company today. Linux may stifle that creativity because you have to learn commands and things that take away from the "art experience" but there is another type of creativity where not being able to get into the guts of the OS and play around is stifling. Programming under Windows (never done any Mac programming but I think it would be the same) is stifling to my coding creativity because of all the overhead involved. Macs with the MacOS will probably never appeal to people like me (and the majority of Slashdotters I suspect) because they want to keep the "fun" label and not get a "techie" label like Linux, which is unfortunate because I think one OS can easily be both (and I must confess I hope that OS is Linux!)

  • Oooh... we have a proprietary machine, that, wait, has to run a proprietary operating system. To top if off, every 6 to 9 months you have to upgrade your OS for 90 dollars.

    Don't like it, put Linux on it. Yes, you can do that.

    Hell, imagine the scream here and elsewhere if every 9 months to 1 year you had to pay microsoft for MINOR updates. (which is all the Mac OS ever gets... gee a better internet search engine and prettier graphics)

    Mac OS 8.5 added to Mac OS 8 prettier graphics, a better internet search engine, better virtual memory (improving on the already improved vmem of OS 8), improved networking, improved all sorts of other stuff, and just like all the other updates it was faster and more stable. OS 9 will add Carbon compatibility to prepare for OS X consumer, multiuser capability, TCP file sharing, and more. Windows 98 added to 95 a bundled web browser, little sliding menus, and fixes for dozens of security holes for the same price. Which was worth it?

  • Yeah, but if Apple's ripping me off that much on the upgrade, how much am I getting ripped on the basic system? Since it's not itemized, I'm thinking a lot. Note that if I spend $1500 on a PC, I'll get a LOT more than if I spend an equivalent amount on a Mac.

    $1500 approx. - PII 400, 17 inch monitor, 128M RAM, 13 gig HD.

    $1500 approx - G3 350, no monitor, 64M RAM, 6 gig HD.

    Which is the better deal? I'd say even the bare Mac is a ripoff. And don't pull that "but the G3 is a better processor." on me - A fast processor does NOT make a good system. Note that my K6-2/300 kicks the crap out of a lot of those #1500 PII-400s because the rest of the system is fully decked out. Especially note my previous rant about Apple's love affair with ATI.

    As far as MacOS support for other video cards - Do you realize how anal ATI is with their specs? If Apple can get specs from ATI, they can get specs from anyone. Especially NVidia, who is not only supporting Linux with an open-source driver, but is also supporting BeOS.
  • The hardware is (for the most part) standard. But there are some EXTREMELY proprietary things in Macs. I think the biggest example is the firmware being written to prevent an upgrade to a G4 for any G3 owners. Oh yeah, and let's see you try to get a good video card for a Mac. The latest ATI cards can be described as "acceptable" at best, but they're still more than a generation behind PCs - The Rage 128 is slower than an original TNT and has lower visual quality. Meanwhile, the PC world currently has TNT2s available for $90, and TNT2 Ultras in the $170 range, with the GeForce on the horizon. Yes, they may be PCI (or AGP), but I don't see MacOS supporting 3D on anything except the crap ATIs. There are two main things that have to happen before I'll buy a Mac: a) Apple has to end their love affair with bottom-of-the-barrel chipset maker ATI. The only worse manufacturer is S3 IMHO. b) They have to stop charging $324 (academic pricing) to upgrade from a 6 gig to 12 gig HD when I can get a 12gig for $120 outright. c) Sell a mobo, case, and nothing else. I think the Linux cloners using the IBM specs will beat Apple to this.
  • ...but they sure are expensive. The price of a G4 based Apple will buy you a pretty loaded PC. I think Ars Technica said a dual PII-600 - maybe a slight exageration there but only just.

    For me (and most /. people) Apple's latest system always seem a bit like Nike trainers. Fancy label, fancy price tag but nothing special compared to the £20 clones.

    Long live the "PC" technology steamroller...
  • For games and other time wasting stuff maybe... but for building stuff like linux, mozilla, RTEMS, etc. I doubt it comes close to a dual PIII.

    Who's not like anyone is going to benchmark the thing (properly).
  • at from /. it seems they are more likely to go
    for the IBM PPC boards or alpha (EV6 comes on a
    pretty sweet board, too bad compaq is greedy with
    thier compiler tech. lets hope IBM/motorola
    wont be. im certain apple would if it were up to

    sad the the g4 macs have only a 2x agp...

    maybe apple should look at matrox or number nine.
  • Until the G3 arrived, Macs ranged from insanely difficult(those stupid "pizza-box" cases on the 6100 for example) to nearly impossible(the SE) to get inside of.

    I think you are confusing the 6100 with some other model. I had a Centris 610, which uses the exact same case as the 6100 series and to get into it, you pop two catch tabs on the back and the cover comes off. Everything was completely accessible after that.

  • How long till they run on the Sawtooth boards, though? I really want to get a 500MHz but there's no way I'm going to do it if Linux isn't there as well...

    Hey, Jason, mail Jobs! Tell him Lnux got him an extra sale!
  • It wasn't that clones were eating into Apple's profits. They were gnawing off limbs. Power Computing had an exit strategy - kick Apple's ass by making machines that totally put Apple to shame, and charge much less for them. They did that. Apple was so far behind it wasn't even funny, but Power Computing was beginning to dictate standards for the CPU, down a dead-end route, a faster version of the 604, instead of moving on to a G3. The faster 604 (Mach5) would have been a developmental dead-end for the PowerPC, but it was faster than the G3 - and maintained not only FP performance, but multiprocessor capability, which were both tradeoffs for the G3.
    Once Apple was decimated, Power Computing had hoped to switch over to x86, and if you recall, at the time Apple shut them down, they tried to go into the x86 market, but it was too soon for them, their designs weren't quite there yet. Had they more time, and more Apple-crunching capital, they could easily have shut down Apple, AND made a successful transition into the x86 clone market, and probably would be a worthy competitor to Dell and Compaq today. But we would have no Apple.

    If Apple were to reopen cloning, they would have to simply quit the hardware market, because they simply can't compete on price/performance. Power Computing didn't have to design the motherboard or the ROMs.
    I AM glad that Apple's back, but I really wish there was some way to get the great hardware they're making now, out in the open so those of us who don't drive porsches can afford to buy clone systems, or build our own. (as it is, Apple is even afraid of the upgraders eating their lunch, hence the ROM hack to prevent G4 upgrades to B&W G3s. thank god I have a G3 beige!).

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Maybe if Steve Jobs would fire a couple of neruons and have a Tech Note written to explain why the block is there, people wouldn't have to speculate on why Apple did this.

    As it is, Apple has already shown their dark side when they brutally stomped Power Computing into the dust. (yes, it was self-defense, but if Apple had simply quit the hardware field, because it was obviously not on par with the cloners), we could be in a much better PPC hardware world today, and not have so much trepidation about these very suspicious looking maneuvers.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • ha. If it weren't for contractual obligations, Motorola would not have completed Altivec, and would have dumped the PPC two years ago. Motorola apparently hates the PPC more than Intel does.

    (anyone at Moto who disagrees with this statement - please demonstrate otherwise: affordable, open PPC Clones NOW!)

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • "Processor
    upgrades aren't useful until a year or so into the lifecycle when competition and age have brought the
    cost to levels close to the resale difference"

    If that's the case, why were people buying B&W G3's last February and slapping CPU upgrades in them right away? Because even Apple's top of the line was not as fast as the fastest upgrade cards, again proving that while the PPC may be faster than the P III (debate, argue), Apple is NOT cranking out the fastest systems they could be. They were behind the curve during the clone wars, and that's why they stomped cloning, and they're behind the curve now, and ONLY the accelerator manufacturers illuminate the truth. Apple's ROM upgrade shuts out the light on that truth.

    I love my Macintosh. I hate Apple.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • "Apple has fucked me over for the last time. When a company tinkers with their computers' firmware
    to preventprocessor upgrades. . ."

    See? We're back to this one again. It's not whether or not Apple DID disable the upgradability, its the fact that they're so brain dead, as to sit and watch while the press tears them apart and customers jump ship in an information vacuum.

    "Only president Clinton is better at warping people's perception of reality than this guy is"

    You've been an Apple customer HOW many years, and you've never heard of the "reality distortion field"?

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • e) are there even similar-speed PII's in portables?

    I think not.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • I like my beige G3. I've been treated well by Apple, and I think I'm gonna spring for a G4 upgrade rather than buy a G4 machine, unless this B&W upgradability issue resolves itself, so I can trust the company again.

    There we go again, back to that "information vacuum" thing. . .

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • naw, Microsoft can't do anything to get busted up by the DoJ, because they were nice and included the "NSAKEY". The big bad gvt. is going to leave MS alone. The trial is just for show to keep Sun/Netscape/AOL/Novell happy.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Mac rumors site bullshit.

    Until Apple releases a tech article detailing the hows and why's we're still living in an information vacuum, created by Apple.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • According to the LinuxPPC people, writing an OS for the G3 "should be easy" too, but ask Be, that didn't happen either.

    Technically easy, yes.
    Politically expedient, no.

    Don't hold your breath waiting for OS X x86, it ain't gonna happen, and judging by the information vacuum on the subject of YellowBox licensing for NT, that ain't gonna happen either.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • " They can't make an official statement
    regarding this yet, because they can't afford a fiasco if it takes a bit longer than expected, or doesn't
    work right, or what not"

    They've already got a fiasco on their hands. What did they think their loyal customers were going to think?
    DUH! be honest! Make the statement through the Tech Article system or thru Apple Developer Connection. The technical people will understand if there are delays. just say SOMETHING!

    (and while your at it, let's hear your plan for YellowBox NT licensing too. What? didn't think so.)

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • No, Steve Jobs didn't learn didly squat at NeXT, that's why he said about the Mac OS (back when Rhapsody was killed), that "the Mac OS is our crown jewel, our prized posession, and we should polish it, not throw it away".

    That's complete horse shit - and so we have to wait an extra year and a half for this Carbon bastardization, instead of having had Rhapsody sooner - and continue to listen to the rest of the computing world laugh at dusty, crusty, rusty old Mac OS.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • Grackle, IIRC

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • I've used it maybe twice in the time I've used it.

    Wow you must be from Microsoft Marketing Dept... I've never seen such a grasp on doublespeak. :-)
  • Your reflexive flammage of anything that you perceive as a threat to yourself is exactly what I was criticizing: not Apple, not progress, not user-friendliness. If it is so plainly obvious that OSX is not a Unix, despite having a BSD UNIX core, could you please explain yourself? Insulting your listeners is not a good way to carry an argument.

  • Apple = forward, quality, simplicity, elegance.
    unixes = backwater, cheesy, don't-change-if-ain't-broken, hacks rulz, /. rulz.

    Thank you for your masterful summation of the situation. Your breathtaking clarity, wit, and insight have enlivened yet another mundane day on Slashdot. Confronted with this burst of genius, we readers can only stand in awe and marvel at the enlightenment being given to us. Clearly UNIX is an obsolete piece of junk, only suitable for complete computer nerds, with no future at all: Xah Has Spoken.


    PS - Apple's next operating system release *is* UNIX.
  • Anyone who says Macs aren't for geeks should go to MacHack [] next year. (Alternative OS developers -- including Linux developers -- are welcome there too.) You would not believe the creative energy there is among Mac developers.

    Just because we don't like using command lines, makefiles, emacs, etc. doesn't mean we're any less geeks. We just have different tool and environment preferences.

  • My Windows 98: SE box has not crashed or needed a "maintenence" reboot since I installed it on May 9th, 1999. I've currently had it running for three weeks without a reboot, when I powered it up after returning from vacation. People who whine about how unstable Windows is ought to gain some expertise before posting.

    Also, explain to me how a Macintosh is easier to upgrade than a PC? Here's how I install a new hard drive in my machine. Open case, plug HDD in, reboot into Windows and pick my partition settings. Just because a Macintosh has fewer configuration options doesn't make it better, or easier.
    --Conquering the Earth Since 1978.

  • so, why the sudden spurt of belief in apple now that the G4 is out? probably because it signals all the technological merit that the PowerPC really represents... When Tom's Hardware is comparing 10% different rendering times between an Athlon and Dual Celeron, here comes a piece of APPLE hardware that whups them both

    Dude, I have yet to see a web benchmark that compares the rendering performance of a 750 / 7400 (G3/G4) against a Pentium anything. Sorry, if Apple wants to get out of just having a 'Photoshop' niche, it should quit spouting photoshop benchmarks and start showing me performance comparision for an app suite and some SPEC marks. Showing some game performance on good, popular games and comparing them with their x86 versions, fine. But show me a useful set of comparisons. Photoshop is heavily abused as a benchmark to favor Macs, as it was designed for Macs in the first place, with a crude port to Windows. ByteMark doesn't cut it either.
  • Katz is on crack if he's going to claim that all of the success of the G4 will be because of the ultra-hyped processor power of Motorola's newest CPU. Face it Jon, both current Alphas (21264) and Althons (K7-650) can run circles around the G4, regardless of what Apple would have us believe.

    I agree completely, Alphas can run circles around ANY other competitor and while I haven't tried a K7 yet, they look pretty sweet too!

    And while these G4's may be pretty fast, they are still made by Apple and still come with MacOS installed - yes I know you can install Linux later, but why pay for the MacOS if you don't even like it? Also, does Linux even run on G4's (yet)?

  • Apple is riding the wave of the longest economic expansion in American history. People can afford to buy Apples again. Take a look at your own price points for the new G4 systems. The first, at 400 MHz, starts at $1,599. Go up to 450MHz, and the price jumps to $2,499. Go up to 500MHz, and the price jumps again to $3,499. The trend is obvious. Going up 50 MHz in the G4 line costs about $1,000 for the privilege. Are you (and Apple) trying to tell me that going from 400 to 500 MHz is worth an extra $2,000? I don't think so. If the economy every turns sour, then Apple will be the first to feel it, and they'll feel it hardest.

    It's worth noting that more than simply the clock speed changes in each of the standard configurations you've mentioned.

    • The 400MHz model has 64MB of RAM, a 10GB UltraATA/33 HD, and a CD-ROM drive.
    • The 450MHz model has 128MB of RAM, a 17GB UltraATA/66 HD, and a DVD-ROM drive.
    • The 500MHz model has 256MB of RAM, a 27GB UltraATA/66 HD, and a DVD-RAM drive.

    Not that this totally excuses the price increases, but it's not as draconian as you paint it.

    (There are also other changes between the motherboard used in the 400MHz G4 vs. the one used in the 450 and 500MHz models, but I haven't mentioned them.)

  • Oops, omitted something. The standard 450MHz and 500MHz models also include Zip drives.

  • Braggarts who, when someone says something they disagree with, break out the name-calling kit.

    Sorta like you, with your "Apple Zealots" comment.
  • Here are a few Mac upgrade links.... [] [] [] []
  • Your baseless heterophobia shows your hatred of straight people.

    That's the best comeback you could come up with? How about something like, "Well... your mother likes it..."
  • Re: Sawtooth: It'll be a while. It _will_ work eventually, but not right away. There's a lot of new chips on there that will need working on, so we're going to buy a few and send them to the best of the best out there. :) I don't have an ETA.

    I'll mention your comment to Steve the next time we seem him. ;) (e.g., the next Macworld party)

    jase :)
  • Good man. ;)

    The 400 Mhz boxes should be running pretty shortly after they're out. The processor already can run Linux, and the patches are making their way to the right people.
  • Actually, I think the second age of Apple began with the iMac. Sure the G4 is a cool and powerful machine, but the product that really turned their fortunes around was the iMac. The iMac brought a lot of new users onto the Mac platform, either from Wintel or first time computer buyers.

    The high end G4, at $3499, is a heck of a lot more than an iMac, and is more likely to attract folks who already have Macs and are looking to upgrade (like me!).

    However, I do believe that there will be more folks buying the low and middle G4s to run least until some 3rd party PPC motherboards hit the market.
  • This post rediculously romanticizes Apple. Apple Computer is not salvation, and Steve Jobs isn't the savior. Apple is a computer company. They make and sell computers. In some ways they are good computers and in some ways they are bad. But they are not liberating. There is nothing individualistic or idealistic about the computers or the company. They are a large company out to make a profit, and do so unscrupulously. Apple has been no more reluctant to screw its customers and competitors than Microsoft, only less profitable at it.

    The Motorola PowerPC 7400, which apple calls a "G4" and claims credit for, is a powerful chip to be sure. But it isn't as much faster than a Pentium as the carefully chosen benchmarks would suggest. Apple didn't invent it and had nothing significant to do with the development. All they are doing is riding on the coattails of a good product and claiming credit for it, all the while pushing an overpriced and underperforming system.

    Sorry, it's just a product. And the only creative genius at Apple is their marketing. "Think Different" is just a corporate slogan. Just like "where do you want to go today?". Katz seems to have bought it hook, line and sinker - but it just aint so.
  • Apple is not undergoing a renaissance. They are blowing a lot of smoke and flashing a lot of mirrors.

    "The new IMac! Now in color!"

    I am really disappointed you bought into this garbage. A good quality P3 with well-picked components will run rings around a Mac. The Mac has a processor that does well on benchmarks, but the rest of the technology is second-rate.

    Plus, you get all the joy of a closed system, which any self-respecting geek will loathe. Consider their G3s... which Apple has actively prevented from being upgradable by deliberately breaking the firmware. If you plug a G4 chip into a G3 machine, it won't boot up. On purpose.

    No PC manufacturer would be able to get away with this, and I strongly suggest that you not let Apple do it either. They're not rebels. They're not making insanely great things anymore. They are, in my opinion, a bunch of thieves extorting way too much money from a captive market.

    Yes, you should think different -- think open.

  • On the iMac, yes it will, and I would hope so since the iMac is a consumer machine and the P3 is not a consumer processor. Otherwise, Macs are really only deficient in two areas: sound and video.

    Oh, "just" sound and video... sound may not be that critical, but video matters. Especially on the Mac, which is supposed to be a graphical machine! Not only do they have slow, outdated graphic cards, they also have that horrible abstraction layer that slows things down even more. You may not like Microsoft very much, but DirectX is really quite good.

    In all real-world benchmarks, P3s are consistently faster at everything except raw CPU, and they're only just a whisker behind there. And K7s are just now shipping, and are faster still. You will get more work done faster on a PC, will spend less for it, and will be able to upgrade it much less expensively.

    I would *a lot* rather be editing video on a PC than on a Mac.

    Apple isn't any less open than PC manufacturers. The only parts that are kept closed are the ROM chips, the firmware, and the GUI. Every other spec is freely available, along with the code of the operating system.

    That, sir, is absolute crap. Apple has refused to provide documentation on their systems to third party developers they don't like for some time now. They shut down the clone market to keep you from getting cheap Macs. You can't run BeOS on a Mac because Apple is a closed system. You can't run Linux very well on a new Mac for the same reason. Apple is even less on your side than Microsoft is. No matter how pretty the interface is, it's a gilded cage.

    Well, then Microsoft, Intel and Compaq must be small, two bit companies.

    You show me a PC manufacturer that won't let you upgrade a CPU. (Well, except Packard Bell, but they are probably the worst PC clones on the market.) Manufacturers constantly release new BIOS patches to support new CPUs. For the most part, the PC market is a marvel of both cooperation and backward compatibility -- despite the fierce, fierce competition, the consumer rarely gets really shafted. I submit that this is not the case with Apple, which constantly orphans old machines. They do it for their own good, but somehow convince people that it's in their best interest to pay twice as much for a computer that isn't as good to start with, is too expensive to upgrade, and is likely to be orphaned at the drop of a hat.

    Apple will fix the firmware once the G4 hype has faded. If they don't do that within six months, you can bitch. Wait, no you can't, because Apple never said the machines were processor upgradable.

    Oh, so it's okay for them to disable upgradability because it's good for them? If you want to do business with a company that thinks that way, go ahead.

    Apple disabled the upgradability so nobody could ship a G4 accelerator before they shipped a G4 machine. If that's not coldly mercenary, I don't know what is.

    They continue to demonstrate that they are not in business to help you, or anyone but themselves. Not even Microsoft is this bad.

    I do not understand why ANYONE would do business with a company that has ethics like these... and why a /.'er would will probably forever remain a mystery. Remember open? Remember owning your own computer and being able to do what you want with it? Why on EARTH would ANYONE put on handcuffs, even if they are gold and have a nice fur lining?

    Um, well.... er... strike that last question. But you get the gist. :-)

  • Remember 'Softalk'?

    Remember 'Nibble'?

    Remember peeling the shrink-wrap off the gorgeously decorated box of 'Wizardry'?

    Remember when computer manuals ASSUMED you would want to explore programming?

    I need a beer.

  • I'm sorry, but the G4 is nothing new. It's like the transition from 68k to PPC to G3 - it's even less revolutionary than the transition from 68k to the PPC. It's just Moore's law as usual.

    The iMac was groundbreaking, yes. OS X was something new too. But the G4 is just another new computer faster than older computers - we've seen it for many years now, and no marketing will make a computer with a faster processor revolutionary.
    %japh = (
    'name' => 'Niklas Nordebo', 'mail' => '',
    'work' => '', 'phone' => '+46-708-444705'
  • Usually I talk about my Mac in a positive light. My opinion hasn't changed - I still like it and prefer it over Linux and Win*.* for certain tasks. I'm not what some people stereotype somewhat disparagingly as the "typical Mac user" (i.e. The Mac is a threat to my Penis because it allows dumb people to use a computer without begging me to keep hacking their Registry or Init files.)

    What I don't like about it is the dependence on Apple. I'm not worried about them going belly-up -- I also run Linux on it. I've read the G4 rom block is temporary - although if it's NOT my opinion of Apple will nosedive. My problem is someone else still controls the destiny of my computer. This happens in the wintel world also.. look at Intergraph's announcement this week, and this has nothing to do with Microsoft.

    I hate the fact the Mac ships with no development tools. Apple has made the Mac Programmer's Workshop C++ compiler a free download, but it's difficult to install, and being a "non-revenue generator" that's still closed source, I doubt it will get many improvements. At least ship a BASIC... :)

    Apple doesn't seem to encourage development by their users (see above). All those free Microsoft development tools look good, even if they are created mainly as a tool to perpetuate API lock-in. Windows is closed source, but an aweful lot of UNIX-based open sourced apps make it there (like GIMP, or FreeCiv).

    I'm not decided on the mouse, but I hate the keyboard. At least make the arrow keys bigger so one can control Quake in a manner I'm used to already..

    I hate Stuffit. This isn't Apple's fault directly, but by NOT bundling something better we're all hooked on that crappy Stuffit. Almost no one registers, so everytime you use it those sluggish 68000 CPU emulator libraries get loaded. Worse than Java... Bleck! :)

    I also hate paying more for some Mac software. SOME software includes both Mac and PC software on the same disc, but Best Buy or CompUSA decides to mark it up in the Mac section by $10. Smarter users will buy the program from the PC section, which means the numbers are off.

    Oh well. Not a perfect world, which is why I rely on more than one computer. I can't wait for SheepShaver for LinuxPPC to arrive so I can run Linux full-time on the thing (and not miss out on Infini-D and Premiere...)

  • Great ! a 20-Gigaflop beowulf cluster ! Fantastic !

    Except that we're talking about a single consumer level PC here, which even YOU will admit is a different beast than a beowulf cluster.

    Oh, and a Beowulf cluster built in the USA would probably suffer the same export restrictions as the G4's been slapped with.

    Any questions ?
  • Um, Patrik, go back and read the post again, 'kay ?
  • Apple was on its last legs a year ago.

    The IMac took a gamble with USB, no floppy, "fashionable" colours and design. It may or may not have been technically innovative, but it found a market that was so large that it pretty much saved Apple's bacon.

    Groundbreaking may be more appropriate in a marketing sense, but I think it definitely applies.
  • OK..

    There are some really important diffenrences between the 400 and the 450 model.

    The more expensive model got a completely new motherboard, sporting a new ROM-chip, AGP-graphics, three times as wide I/O, twice as fast PC-bus, supports twice the ammont of RAM, 3 Firewire-ports, double USB-busses, UltraATA/66-bus and wireless LAN.

    Besides that the more expensive model got twice the RAM, twice as large hard drive, a DVD-drive, 20% faster CPU and a graphics-card with two ports, one digital and one analog.

    The cheaper one is crippled but it's cheaper new than the older G3's were on a reabate.

    - Henrik
  • Maybe I should flame you, since you only responded to the flamer below. :-)

    But tell me, how many people really need a TNT2 to run Microsoft Office? Fast video ain't the be-all and end-all of a high-performance computer. Case in point -- my wife runs Media100 on a Mac 8100/100, and the bottleneck is (you guessed it) the processor. Can't wait to get her a G4! I doubt that the "bottom of the barrel" video will present a problem.

    As for preventing upgrades to current G3 systems, I expect the third-party providers to work around that in a hurry.

    Finally, I'll repeat what others said about Apple's upgrade prices -- buy what you want mail-order and install it yourself. It's all standard parts these days.

    -- Dirt Road

  • Is that Dave Winer? :-)

    Seriously, Microsoft "treats their developers like gold" only until it's time to slit their throats or swallow them whole.

    -- Dirt Road

  • Yeah, the MacOS versions lag the others a bit, but the current versions let you write programs that look like Mac apps. TCL/Tk also interoperates well with AppleScript.

    With a little care, your MacTCL program will work on Un*x and Windoze too. Nice stuff.

    -- Dirt Road

  • What contractual obligations? I was under the impression that motorola disc'd the Starmax because of apple's license bomb - the program wasen't around long enough to show a clear profit/loss performance history.
  • Why are people attributing performance gains in the G4 to Apple? Altivec was Motorola's contribution.

    Apple's contribution is being the biggest customer for the Altivec version of the G4. Giving Apple all this attention is in my opinion quite out of order.

    I'm much more interested in whether or not an Altivec G4 can run one of the new IBM-spec NON-Apple mother boards that are starting to show up, and how well linux might do on such a system.

    Apple is doing the exact thing almost every other big corporation does, which is to work very hard to market a product. I think Steve Jobs gets credit for putting Apple back in black, not the G4 Altivec technology.

    Marketing is the root of all confusion.
  • Actually, I think he liked the iMac. He was just pointing out that if Apple 'listened to the customer', they'd be making beige PCs running Windoze. No one knew they wanted a fruity, floppy-less, with a kinda-small screen, but really fast processor and cool industrial design box.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Job's revitalization of Apple is finally coming to fruition. With the G4, they have a chipset which Intel, etc. will not be able to compete with performance wise for the next 2 years, at least--and if the PPC consortium has their act together, maybe never again. Their is a lot of expense in pushing technology, and that is part of the premium price that you pay for an Apple product. What many will not realize it the enormous amount of energy that Apple put in behind the scenes--the Altivec/Velocity Engine idea came from an experiment at Motorola and Apple engineers realized its potential (IBM fought tooth and nail against the idea and had to be shown the potential). Intel hasn't done much at all in the innovation department--the PIII is basically a PII with a couple of problems fixed, and an extremely limited vector unit. In addition to the cpu innovation, Apple has led the PPC consortium into what Apple calls the universal motherboard architecture. This makes things cheaper to manufacture, as you can use the same basic technology to make multiple somputer products. This architecture change is why the G4 is not going to be readily available from Apple to upgrade your old G3 machine--there is a hardware revolution going on. This will ultimately bring the price of PPC's down to be even more competetive with PC's--and they are competetive with **well built** PC's now. Nobody has ever gotten rich trying to compete with the bottom of the market, and much of the griping about the price of Apples in the past, and in this article, is based on resentment that nobody in the PPC consortium is bottom fishing the market. Simultaneously with all this hardware inovation, Apple has done a lot of software innovation. This is just over the horizon, with OSX. Imagine, a year from now having a computer which will let you operate mindlessly in an updated version of the Apple gui, or since the Apple OS will run as an application , let you drop the Apple OS application and drop back into (Free)BSD and fire up X windows, with the window manager of your choice. Not happy yet, you can bootp and fire up LinuxPPC. Any geek who doesn't understand the implications of this is brain dead.
  • How do you get that. The first age of Apple is clearly the Apple ][ Era. They were at the forefront of the new, blossoming, personal computer market, before IBM and its clones hit the market like a ton of bricks. I'd say the second age was the Macintosh age, with their Anti-Orwellian, personal empowerment bent. Their third age kinda started in two steps, first with the Macintosh II, then with the G3, as they moved from a completely closed, monolithic design to a more open (compared to the early Macs), expandible, modern design, their ads started to focus more on the professional designer, rather than the rebel artist that was the early Mac target. The G4 system, far from revolutionary, looks like it's a power and performance boost for their third age systems, but nothing as earth shattering as the beginning of a new era.

    If there is a new era forming at Apple, it's the iMacs and it's relatives that are making it. It's a return to the completely closed, unexpandable, monolithic design, but with a more network-centric approach than before. I'd still be reluctant to call that a new age either.

    However you count it, you can't say that Apple is just starting their Second Age now, that is very short sighted.

  • That's not inside information, it's history of the mainstream computing industry. Saying that the G4 is the second age of Apple computing is almost as bad as saying the Netfinity is the second age of IBM computing. Talking about "Second Ages" is talking about how something fits in with history, and saying a company as old and changed as Apple is only just starting its second age is absurd.

    Apple getting rid of Amelio wasn't the "end of the first age", Amelio wasn't even in Apple until 1996, when the company was already almost 20 years old and already through with several major tranformations, both in product lines and in management. How was the loss of Amelio any more the end of an age than the loss of Scully, or Jobs? Regardless of how you feel about those people, they were far more significant to the company.

    For a decent overview of the history of Apple, check out []

  • I think the G4's 128-bit registers are a serious breakthrough, and that Apple in the corporate sense is not to be underestimated (they still keeping inventory lowest in the industry?), but Katz still talked a lot of nonsense. To be expected.
    The interesting thing is this: given an article that is _so_ much of a troll, and makes it _so_ difficult for any selfrespecting geek to agree, it's expected that the anti-Apple folks are out in force with burning torches, aggravated beyond tolerance. That said, there are still slashdot geeks willing to stick up for Apple despite Katz's shenanigans! That says a lot.
    ObSlashdotCred: regarding Altivec vs. MMX: two words for you- context switches. >:)
  • Right now the higher-ups at Be are clearly indulging their hatred of Apple rather than making clear technology decisions. They claim that BeOS can't run on a G3 or G4 because Apple sabotaged it, tied the hardware up to lock users in to MacOS. This is a claim similar to that of the barber, back in the days of desegregation, who said that he wouldn't serve black customers because he didn't know how to cut black people's hair.

    If Linux runs on a G3 or G4, why shouldn't BeOS be able to? Linux has no secrets, no NDAs with Apple that let it get around lock-in. There is no lock-in. Be's hierarchs are whining about Apple at BeOS's users' expense, while hoping beyond hope that x86 will pull ahead of the G4 in performance and save their asses before Be's user base all turn to Linux on IBM PPC boards, or (worse yet, from Be's perspective) to MacOS X.

    (Speaking of BeOS and Linux ... does anyone know if Be has gotten to the starting line on IA-64 yet?)
  • The "AIM" group broke up last year. Apple has put themselves in the position of relying on Motorola, but the reverse isn't true; Motorola's original intent for AltiVec was embedded systems. From a business standpoint rather than a geek standpoint, Intel isn't competing against the PowerPC at all; chip customers are motherboard manufacturers, and the only way PPC and Pentium could be competing for the same space is to be compatible with one another. Motorola has no competition in their space, and Intel's competition is AMD. (Anyone who thinks the "Intel Inside" campaign was targeted against Apple, call me--I have a 64-bit TRS-80 to sell you. It'll be the next big thing.)

    In anti-defense of Intel, our Anonymous friend is not exactly correct that the Pentium III is a tweaked Pentium II--it's even older than that. Both of them are using the P6 core from the Pentium Pro, which was the last major upgrade to the 8086 CPU family. Everything else has been either pushing the speed level or integrating separate units onto the CPU.

    However, given that Intel hasn't released any specs for the P7 processor other than noting it's going to be using a .13-micron manufacturing process, it's premature to say that Intel won't be able to "compete performance-wise" with the G4 chip "for the next two years, at least." P7 is due in about a year (Q3 2000), and given AMD's Athlon processor, it's a good bet that Intel will be motivated to keep to that timetable. Let's wait for the P7 specs to be leaked before we slag it, hmm?

    (To those not keeping score, by the way, the P7 is not Merced. The IA64 line is a separate dark horse from Intel, and I think Merced's successor, McKinley, is going to be one to watch.)

  • I think you're forgetting the "glue logic" that keeps BeOS from being cleanly ported.

    When there are closed sections of the box, it's more difficult to take advantage of... ...which is one reason that Linux has taken longer to gain a foothold on Mac hardware (and the open-source mechanism allows distribution to other free OS's but BeOS finds it needs to do it in a "clean room" environment to retain their copyrights- rightly or wrongly).

    Seriously, consider that IBM's release of specs for PowerPC-based motherboards (which includes the artwork...) will make G4 technology (with documented glue logic) more available for Linux-o-philes. Heck, my main system at home is 4+ years old - it's an AMD 5x86-133; I haven't upgraded it since I didn't consider a Pentium as an upgrade path- I wanted an Alpha or a PowerPC (and I had expected cheap CHRP MBs to become available as "commodity parts").

    Apple (apparently) did not want to allow for cloning since it'd reduce their H/W profit margins to (effectively) zero- which Steve Jobs wanted to retain. Against BeOS (much less Linux or FreeBSD) the MacOS would show it's senility on open hardware- so there needed to be a software margin too.

    Now all I want is to get some PPC CHRP motherboards cheap...

  • this is what i heard from a friend who tried:

    OS 8.X get into some VERY funky issues with G4 boards

    OS 9 is fine (that's what the G4's ship with, AFAIK)...

    with the new ROM, you can boot into a G4 with OS 9.X, but not with OS 8.X

    simple, not malicious, and from apple's point of view, no one should be playing with either OS 9 or G4 upgrades, as they are not out! (and all the manufacturers are on NDA)...
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

    Actually it is. IBM doesn't make the G4, Motorola does. But Motorola didn't relaese their specs, did they?

    If that's the case, then why is a relatively small-time company like Phase 5 [] expecting to ship G4-based processor boards for Amigas [] on October 15? If Phase 5 can get specs and chips in quantity for such a small/niche product, then any serious computer manufacturer can. (This is not intended as a put-down against Phase 5. :-)

    Have a Sloppy day!
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

    When the G4 came out, countless geeks didn't say, "Ooo, I want an Apple," they said, "Ooo, I want a G4, cause I try and put Linux or something that will really take advantage of it on it." Geeks think the chip is cool, not the machine.

    If you're right (and I hope you are), then Apple is going to looked pretty bad when 3rd-party non-Mac-clone G4 computers start coming out (and that isn't very far away).

    Apple's recent minitower machines really are quite nice (except for the exterior part of the case), but they are also overpriced. Part of this is due to greed (Apple has no competitors) and part of it is due to the development cost of MacOS. PPC machines that don't MacOS licensing or compatability are going to be price competitive with x86 PeeCees, but faster.

    So if you want a G4, just wait a little while. Apple's machines are going to be a joke compared to the Real Thing. On the other hand, a lot of people do buy Macs because of MacOS, so I doubt Apple is really in serious danger.

    Have a Sloppy day!
  • True geeks, technophiles, and the digirati will acknowledge that the G4 is an impressive CPU. But these people will also point out that Apple has coupled their G4 with the same uninspiring graphics chipset from ATI, as well as with the aging MacOS (we are, of course, promised Apple's next OS real soon now).

    Ah, but look at what the consequences are: Apple is mass-marketing PPC-based machines to consumers in addition to geeks. This is giving the PPC enough economy of scale to avoid becoming another Alpha (fast, but expensive).

    Next year when you buy a brand X G4 machine to replace the old stone-knives-and-bearskins x86, remember: Apple (inadvertantly) made it possible.

    Have a Sloppy day!
  • I almost couldn't bring myself to read the posts when I saw an article by *Katz* about *Macs*! But then I started to think about it, and it is kind of an interesting little experiment: Are Katz-despisers and Mac-haters mutually exclusive? What proportion of /. readers bash both of them? Will Katz annoy the Mac-lovers, even?

    Regardless, no matter what Katz actually says, you had to know there would be some heated discussions here! :-)

  • How come everyone assumes that Macs are toys. You can customise you system just as much as you can with Win9*. Win9x is a toy too, just not a fun one. I use my win95 disk for a coaster, I'm not sure what I'd do with an I-Mac, maybe an aquarium.
  • What is wrong with Photoshop benchmarks? Apple unveiled the G4 at Seybold, a desktop publishing, web, and media convention... Photoshop breeding grounds if ever I saw it. As the web grows, so too does the Photoshop niche, btw.

    Regardless, I actually did see the Apple G4s at Seybold, hooked up to gorgeous 22" Cinema Displays playing Q3.

    Full resolution, highest detail, flawless framerate. Not that I can claim the G4 is faster, but if I do Photoshop for a living and play Q3 on the side, *nothing* can beat a G4. Likewise anything that does raw number crunching I suspect nothing beats a G4(for now)

  • I dunno, they don't seem to occupy that radically different markets...

    Apple *is* planning to replace MacOS on the Mac, with OS X, which rests atop a (hopefully) stable underpinning of BSD with a MacOS/NeXT hybrid UI. Likewise the G4 seems to be pretty powerful, so I don't see why Apple wouldn't try to market it as a deskstop workstation...

    iMacs for the consumer desktop, and G4s for the professional desktop, no? Including researchers, scientists, desktop publications, animation, visualization, etc. Why wouldn't Apple want this market? It's not as if Apple can't compete...

  • You forgot some other stuff.

    You get:
    64MB ram
    20 GB HD
    Zip internal
    Rage 128 Pro w Digital output(not Rage 128)
    DVD drive


    2 Airport wireless networking antennas
    the ability to use 1.5GB memory(up from 1.0GB)
    Three times the memory throughput(so Apple claims)
    133MHz AGP 2x
    An additional Firewire port(how many PCs have a firewire port anyhow?)
    MacOS 9

    As well as the price for speed boost from 400 to 450 MHz

    I may have forgotten a few items as well.

  • Which might be why you and PC magazines love to use it. Along with MS Office benchmarks and operations that did heavy floating point calculations but light on the integers.

    Quake was ported by Westlake Interactive, not id. While they are good programers, they went for compatibility before performance, so the Mac version lags.

    A Quake benchmark is just as biased as a bytemark benchmark. That and the game is four years old! At least use a newer application like Photoshop or Quake 3.
  • John Katz seems to have missed the extreme irony of his first paragraph: that while the new G4 Macs were released with the usual Apple hype and with Jobs' reality distortion magic, Apple remains a "creative" company.

    Where Apple had technical brilliance in the 80s and early 90s, it now possesses amazing marketing skills--it is, in fact, one of the best corporate marketers right now. The iMac's success stems from Apple's ability to seek out a large consumer base (non-techie, aesthetically sensitive persons) and make a computer that aimed right for that mark. However, open up an iMac and one finds little, if any, technical innovations. The iMac, technology-wise, is no different than the $1000 celeron-based offerings of Dell and Gateway--but it was Apple's marketing and attention to design and aesthetics that gave them a winner (although not with the orange ones).

    True geeks, technophiles, and the digirati will acknowledge that the G4 is an impressive CPU. But these people will also point out that Apple has coupled their G4 with the same uninspiring graphics chipset from ATI, as well as with the aging MacOS (we are, of course, promised Apple's next OS real soon now). And let's not forget the Apple strategy that has remained unchanged throughout its history: the Apple price premium. Why, most geeks would ask, would I pay 10-20% more for a machine simply because it has translucent plastic and the Apple logo?

    Apple's business is not to cater to the needs of diehard geeks, but to cater to the unwashed masses for whom simplicity and aesthetics are more important than one's framerate in Quake.

    I think John Katz has it backwards: In years past, "macho" geeks touted their Macs as superior to any Wintel offering, because, in fact, they were. However now, these geeks, and especially the more frugal amongst them shun the Mac not only on technical grounds, but financial ones. And John Katz shows his adherence to the religion of Apple by stating the same old 80s Apple rhetoric of shaking up the rest of the computer industry. The emergence of Apple in the 80s no doubt changed the industry forever, but now, in the 90s, with Jobs' greying beard, Apple is just another entrenched veteran in the most competitive industry around, and has, apparently successfully used its storied past to both sell decent machines at a premium and keep its faithful believing in the myth that is the Apple Computer Company.
  • For the most I have to agree with you...personally I never cared much for Jobs and I did not think that his return to Apple was going to do much for the Company. They have managed to answer to customer's needs and even though they got an influx of cash from M$ a couple of years back they don't seem to be "Slaves to Redmond".

    But the real question is: "Is Apple's success due to Job's return or to finally listening to consumers or does the answer fall somewhere inbetween ?"
  • Maybe not everybody agrees with Apple's stategies, or simply the way Jobs does his job. But one must admit it works.

    Apple was almost dead a couple of years ago, and now it's back on top. I say "bravo". They have managed to answer customer's needs, and we have to remember they are *not* M$ slaves all the way. Most users don't need and don't want to put their hands in the system, and Apple knows that.

    Just my .02
  • "pounded ... IBM and Microsoft... at their own game" (sorry for the paraphrasing) but didn't you say a couple sentances before, that IBM Motorola and Apple were working on this project together?
    So, is Apple just "pounding themselves"? :)

    yeah yeah ok -1 me allready!!!
  • Let's face it: Apple is cool because it has CULTURE.

    Bzzz... Sorry, Apple has about as much culture as an average California corporation. What you mean is that Apple has a good MARKETING DEPARTMENT and spends money to hire good ad agencies. That's a little bit different, I believe.

    Apple makes a cutlural statement, a leap into the imaginations of its users.

    Again, you are judging a company by its advertising. Not a very good way to go about it. If you want to talk about making leaps into imagination, find out which ad agency made the ads that you liked -- they are making these leaps.

    From everything I've seen, Jobs is an evil bastard, even more so than Gates

    Hear, hear!

    But he's a bastard in the right way. He really beleives that by giving people 'insanely great' technology, he can change the world.

    I wouldn't state so confidently my opinions about Job's beliefs. In any case, you are probably thinking of the time long past, time when the computers were only starting to appear and things like Macs were really new and exciting. Now (and for many years already) Apple is just another corporation out to make a buck and Jobs is a CEO with a flair for public relations. I doubt very much that he is thinking a lot about changing the world with Apple technology. Besides, what technology is that? I haven't seen anything radical (except for colors, that is) come out of Apple for a looooong time.

    ...we'll do what Jobs envisioned: change the world.

    Err... thank you very much, but I don't think I like the idea of changing the world according to Job's ideals (I am pretty sure they include a lobotomy for all non-Apple users like me, among other unpleasant things). And since you are so enthusiastic about changing the world, can you please be a bit more exact about how you will change it and what Apple has to do with it?

  • Sorry, but I read the article (don't) so I figured I should comment on it.....

    after I take a quick nap.zzzzzzzzz

    O.K., so is JK impressed by this amazing machine (WOW, look at those benchmarks! um.) or by another good commercial? I mean to totally buy into the hype like this is poor journalism, it's even poor consumerism. The same limits being placed on the G4 are placed on the Dreamcast, why, because we haven't adjusted our belief in what makes up a supercomputer. Or maybe they all are supercomputers now. Wouldn't that have been more groundbreaking? Not, ooh, a new color and number, but, ooh, anybody can have a supercomputer on their desk (and play solitaire, yippee!)

    Sorry anytime you just add a number to a product precludes it from being amazing in my book, or anything other than a blip on the big screen.

    non-story, non-article, non-event.

  • The G4 chip has Altivec, the PPC platform's SIMD extensions. These are 128-bit (vs. the P3's 64-bit) vector math additions that have their own dedicated parallel units on the CPU (vs. MMX's need to turn off the FPU and use its registers). They are well supported in PPC C compilers (unlike MMX and SSE, which require nasty direct use of x86 assembler -- ). They will be extensively supported in the main OS for the machine and many of its applications (unlike MMX and SSE which are really only supported in a limited fashion in DirectX and a few games). In other words, this is one of the reasons Mac OS X will smoke the competition. Oh, and the better SMP support than the P3's hardcoded 4-way (which require serious hardware hacks to get around for the new 8-way machines) and the new, improved FPU don't hurt either.
  • Most users don't need and don't want to put their hands in the system, and Apple knows that.

    That's the kind of thing I like to hear... too many people say the iMac is crap (for the wrong reasons). And always , and without exception, their first reason is that it doesn't have a floppy drive. Usually second is that it doesn't have a lot of upgrade options. I have a floppy drive, and I've used it maybe twice in the time I've used it. Far too many people (usually geeks) forget that "normal" people have to use computers too. People who would rather spend time with other things besides their computers (hell, some people are actually afraid of the things!). Simplicity is what will get more people using computers. As well as Linux runs, someone who doesn't know what to do will be content with using Windows (even through the crashes) or MacOS (they don't care if it's preemptive and memory protected).

    But, say what you want about Apple (btw, it's the G3 that was "sabotaged" to not accept the G4, not the other way around)... that they are greedier and more coporate, etc... but then, Jobs isn't a 20-year-old hippie from Berkeley anymore. You can't deny that they haven't tried to bring computers to the more computer ignorant, though. And damn it, I think they did a good job.

    The Happy Blues Man
  • I found a few minor errors in JK's latest piece..don't know how significant they are but here goes. >>The G4's microprocessor, co-developed by Apple, IBM and Motorola, uses a circuit called the velocity engine... Then Katz goes on to say: >>...he's pounded the macho geeks at their own game and exposed behemoths like IBM and Microsoft for the clunky and unimaginative entities that they are. In light of IBM having a major part in producing the G4 processor, I doubt Apple's infusion of the new G4 chip 'exposes' IBM as a clunky and unimaginative entity. If anything it shows that Apple and IBM are on the same page, agreeing that Altivec was a good idea and investing in it. Katz, you should re-edit your stories occasionally. My two pesos.
  • I applaud Apple simply because I appreciate healthy diversity within the market. No single operating system is appropriate for all users. Today we have several healthy choices: NT, Linux, Solaris, PalmOS, and, yes, MacOS. Likewise, not single chip manufacturer should dominate the scene. Today we have Intel, AMD, and Motorola. You may not like Apple's products, but the company has helped maintain a competative and creative environment over the last decade.

    Where does Apple go from here? Personally, I'm attracted by the possibility of a multiprocessor G4 running a Unix core with a slick window-based environment - Mac OS X. This vision may not work for everyone, but damnit, it works for me.

  • First off - yes, the G4 is cool, and the latest Apple ad is cool in the way that Intel's bunny-suit ads only wish they could be.

    But I wonder about a company that, with version 1.0 of the G3 firmware, allowed a G3 to be upgraded to a G4, but then disabled this option [] in version 1.1 of the firmware.

    If I understand the Wired article correctly - it appears that Apple intentionally crippled its G3 firmware to prevent users from upgrading a G3 to a G4 with a CPU swap, presumably in order to "encourage" folks to buy a whole G4 box rather than just the chip upgrade.

    At least with Intel, I may need a new motherboard for CPU swaps... but at least I can keep the video card, sound card, and, umm... plain white case :)

    Can any Mac folks out there explain what's up with the G3/G4 firmware issue?

  • For a more well thought out take on Apple's comeback (among other things), I suggest Neal Stephenson's "In the Beginning Was the Command Line", which, although not perfect, and slightly out of date, is infinitely more clueful (and readable) than this latest piece of Katz's. Does anyone have an URL for ItBWtCL that still works? The ing_print.html [] link seems to be busted.

    Feh. And generally I like Katz's posts. This one was really lacking, though.

  • I have used macs for almost as long as I can remember. I remember many people claiming that Apple is dead for so many years and their claims were not without reason. Now Apple seems to have turned themselves around. They have started to inovate again and come out with some cool products.

    There are still some things about Apple that they need ot fix. The need to stop the idea of not letting people upgrade their computers. I would be more hesitant about buying a G4 if I knew that there was a good posibility that I would not be able to upgrade the thing. I know that upgrades usually transform into less of a profit, but it is something that the industry is used to haveing. Don't take it away now.

    Second, I think that Apple should allow the clones to start up again, although they may not have a choice. I know that the clones did dig a little into Apple's profits, but they also force Apple to inovate and keep prices down. The clone makers were able to create better computers at a lower price, which force Apple to try to do the same. The results was better computers on both sides.

    Whether you like Apple's computers or not, you should be glad that the company is comming back. They help create competition, however little, for the rest of the PC industry. Without competition, there is no incentive to create better products or keep the prices low. There are still some things Apple needs to fix, but they are at least on the right track.
  • ...putting aside the issue of which CPU (Pentium III or G4) is better at general purpose tasks (anything non-Photoshop, or non-signal procesing-related), true geeks recognize that even in "supercomputer" vector processing, the numbers don't quite add up to a significant win for the G4.

    Let's take the 128-bit vector processing operations. Say, best case, you wanted to issue and execute one of those every clock cycle, at 500 MHz, that would require 128/8*500= 8,000 MByte/sec memory bandwidth. The Apple available today has 20x less!

    Only 400 MB/sec (half that of today's PII/PIIIs). And next month they'll ship a better 800 MB/sec motherboard, matching today's PCs. Even if execution rates are one every two clocks, or one only uses 64-bit wide data, the 10x gap between chip horsepower and memory bandwidth remains the crucial performance-limiting bottleneck for vector processing operations.

    If both PCs and Macs have equivalent memory bandwidths, and memory bandwidths are the single largest constraint on vector processing operations, how does the wider 128-bit circuitry in G4 yield a worthwhile advantage?

    (Answer: a few tweaked benchmarks aside, it doesn't.)

    Yours for a more educated, critical-thinking populace,
  • > Fancy label, fancy price tag but nothing special
    > compared to the £20 clones

    I assume your £20 clones have gigaflop performance?

    Of course they don't.

    Check your specs before making a fool of yourself.

  • Must users may not want to put their hands in the system, but it doesn't leave many options for the growing mass of us who do.

    In addition, supporing apple because they're not microsoft is like courting the lion because it's not the bear. If they're hardware prices had been reasonable oh so long ago, apple would be the $800 pound gorilla, not microsoft, and from the corporate yes corporate policies they have now, would be infinitaly worse to deal with.

    The G4 might be really cool, but apple products have never even come close to living up to apple hype, which is at least as misleading as that of the "evil empire" of microsoft.

    Don't fool yourselves guys. Apple has always been driven by greed, not creativity. Greed often leads to creativity, but that creativity rarely leads to something that is truly A Good Thing(tm). Greed is the driving force, primary goal, and consuming fire of the fruit company.
  • Computers == freedom

    A well used line.

    Reassuring for all the freakled 16 year old anti-socilites, sitting in their darkned bedrooms. Busily preparing themselves for the day technology rules and they become the rulers.

    Computing is the next step in human evolution . True ? I believe so, but can human evolution be controlled by a handful of charasmatic, singleminded, power-hungry, egotistical evangilists ? Aren't we as a species as a culture as a civilisation greater then this ? When one company controls 90% market share for a product essential to the operation of the single most important tool for out advancement, can we truly believe ourselves to be free ?

    The G4 is a new processor. A new way of imprinting etchings on a piece of silicon. There are greater forces at play here.

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Tuesday September 07, 1999 @04:28AM (#1698838)
    It's still difficult to upgrade and loaded with proprietary hardware.

    Difficult to upgrade? What have you been smoking? With the possible exception of a total motherboard replacement, the G4 (and its B&W G3 ancestry) is quite possibly the easiest-to-upgrade machine I've ever seen in every aspect.

    As for "loaded with proprietary hardware" I'd watch what you're saying. Pretty much every single thing on that motherboard is now an open standard: Ultra-ATA for hard drives, PCI and AGP for cards, standard PC100 memory (or is it PC133 now?), USB and Firewire for peripherals, 10/100 Ethernet for networking, OpenFirmware for booting (yes, OpenFirmware is itself an open standard; check FirmWorks [] if you don't believe me), and so on. I should, by the way, note that the G4 AGP no longer has a proprietary Mac ROM on the motherboard anymore (the PCI graphics still do, as they use the legacy Yosemite motherboard rather than Sawtooth, but even the ROM's on these no longer contain any OS-level code). Proprietary hardware? Perhaps one or two things still, but don't even think of calling it "loaded" anymore.

    The power user demands a machine that he/she can not only be proud of when it first comes out, but can remain potent for years to come (through upgrades to both operating system and hardware).

    True, very true. I don't think you'll argue that the G4 isn't a machine to be proud of when first purchased. Now, look to the studies. It's been shown that Macs have a much longer useful life than any other desktop computer (indeed, usually double or triple that of the average PC in a given establishment); I have a seven-year-old machine at home which now has a G3 processor, a good amount of RAM, great storage space, and so on and so forth. Not only that, but it is still running all the latest software out there. In other words, Macs can and do remain potent for years to come, years longer than even most PC's, through upgrades of software and hardware, just as you said.

    The G4 is aiming for the geek market, but just doesn't have the features that would make it attractive for more than a few months.

    And what, pray tell, are those "features"? I don't see any glaring lack, except possibly that I'd like a couple more PCI slots and there are ways around even that problem.

    By attempting to appeal to higher-end users but not changing its hardware strategy to one of modularity and maximum control, Apple will find that it has sown the seeds of bitter resentment.

    Not changing its hardware strategy to one of modularity and maximum control? Perhaps we're on different wavelengths. The G4, as I see it, appears to be just about as "modular" as any PC I've ever seen (sure, there's the mobo issue, but that's the only problem I've seen and considering the way Mac upgrades tend to run this problem is actually quite minor). As for "maximum control" I don't see any real trouble in this area here either. Looks to me like I can dictate more or less exactly what does and doesn't go into my machine.

    You did a good job of describing what the average power-user wants. Trouble is, the Mac fits your description perfectly. That's rather countrtproductive to your argument, which is thereby reduced to the level of "Macs suck because they're Macs" (since you have no arguments to support your claim). Perhaps you should actually look into these machines, rather than refer to 10-year-old FUD which hasn't been true for quite some time now.
  • by Ethan Butterfield ( 7481 ) on Tuesday September 07, 1999 @01:58AM (#1698839)
    Fact: The v1.1 G3 Firmware Update does, in fact, make it impossible to upgrade that machine with a G4 CPU. This has been confirmed by various third-party accelerator makers, as well as some independent people. It's been indirectly confirmed by Apple, but they ain't coming out and saying it.

    What folks are forgetting is that this is the one, sole fact that we have. We do not know Apple's motivation. We do not know if it is permanent. However, just about everyone has gone completely mental, accusing Apple of sabotage, threatening class-action lawsuits, and acting like a bunch of rabidly paranoid conspiracy theorists.

    Now, worst case, it may have been expressly for the purpose of never allowing B&W G3 owners to pop in a G4 CPU. I highly doubt Apple is this stupid. They may be much more Microsoftian than in the early 80's, but Jobs' Apple ain't dumb. Third-party upgrade manufacturers are already working on getting around the block, and there have been scattered reports of success. Apple ends up in a situation where they don't just lose, but lose big time. I don't think so.

    One of the things glossed over in recent months have been stability issues with the G4 and the new "Sawtooth" (the real new G4, with the 2X AGP and the MaxBus memory management chipset) architecture. This is why there's sizable delays on Sawtooth G4 models: they aren't ready yet! It makes sense to me that Apple would not want the bad press of G4 instability right before their introduction, thus the firmware block. When things are ok, then a new firmware update can be released which will remove the block.

    This is simply rampant speculation. But I urge everyone else out there to engage those 8lbs of grey matter wedged between their foreheads before they run out and find a lawyer to go sue Apple. I do have problems with the fact that Apple didn't bother to tell anyone about the G4 block in the firmware update, and I'm not excusing them for that. This block can be removed by Apple at any time with a new firmware upgrade.

  • by noy ( 12372 ) on Tuesday September 07, 1999 @01:28AM (#1698840) Homepage
    good read, but it's a little bit on the side of repeating what the 'buzz' in the real world has been for a while - the iMac and Steve got on the cover of time, now with the iBook and the G4 full spreads in other glossies are appearing - that's not the kind of stuff you see when a new pentium is introduced... why? because, IMHO, apple has always build COMPUTERS, not COMPUTER PATRS - they could design the ibook from the beginning to have a low-power chip, a built-in handle, and an antenna - why? because they designed the whole thing and had to rely on no one else for critical components (they still relied on the engineers and manufacturers, obviously)... the mainstream consumer wintel world is stuck with, well. windows, and intel... kinda limiting, huh? (go powerpc, go linux...)

    anyway, how do we REALLY see the resurgence? the sales! people LOVE the iMac, and perhaps more importantly, EVERYONE recognizes it, and EVERYONE knows who built it... i have one on my desk in the office here at Rutgers, in a residence hall, and it never ceases to get compliments

    so, why the sudden spurt of belief in apple now that the G4 is out? probably because it signals all the technological merit that the PowerPC really represents... When Tom's Hardware is comparing 10% different rendering times between an Athlon and Dual Celeron, here comes a piece of APPLE hardware that whups them both - exotic, fresh, and it has a cool case - who wouldnt want one on their desk?

    and one issue not mentioned: soon, the G4 will run a full BSD unix - so even Unix heads and /. fans will be able to run the coolest hardware with the coolest OS (be it WHATEVER flavor of unix or linux you want, that's not what this post is about)

    also, one issue: individual creativity? it took more than a few people to design the 7400 (G4 chip), and a LARGE crew to do the system - you can't hack together a complex beast like that in the same way Steve and Steve did the Apple 1... and AFAIK, Apple has a board, with plenty of hot-shots from much less flexible computer firms sitting on it... so what is apple's resurgence due to, in my opinion? they got back to their original goals: produce powerful, affordable, easy to use computers that REDEFINE how we can use them... With their last few products, they have done excellently, and the world has taken notice... may they continue to do so for a long time, as JonKatz says, i want the cool toys :>
  • by shambler snack ( 17630 ) on Tuesday September 07, 1999 @01:52AM (#1698841) Homepage
    You know, John, you're beginning to sound like an Apple marketing 'droid. Let's stop for a moment and think about some of the causes of Apple's current successes.
    • Apple has been selling its iMacs not on technical superiority, but on consumer marketing of the package. The shape, the simi translucence, the multiple colors, picking consumer outlets like CompUSA and Best Buy, all this is careful marketing orchestration. Jobs assertion that the iMac was superior to PII-based systems on the market at the time was quickly blown out of the water, and Apple never tried the technology angle again.
    • Everybody hates Microsoft. This has been going on for some time now, and everyone has taken advantage of it, especially Apple. Apple is riding that horse along with Linux and everybody else, for as hard and as long as that horse will run. What makes Apple's actions gallingly hypocritical is the acceptance, by Jobs, of Gate's 150 million to buy Apple's silence and finally put the last vestiges of the look-and-feel lawsuit to rest. Jobs even went so far as to comment Bill for saving Apple.
    • Apple is riding the wave of the longest economic expansion in American history. People can afford to buy Apples again. Take a look at your own price points for the new G4 systems. The first, at 400 MHz, starts at $1,599. Go up to 450MHz, and the price jumps to $2,499. Go up to 500MHz, and the price jumps again to $3,499. The trend is obvious. Going up 50 MHz in the G4 line costs about $1,000 for the privilege. Are you (and Apple) trying to tell me that going from 400 to 500 MHz is worth an extra $2,000? I don't think so. If the economy every turns sour, then Apple will be the first to feel it, and they'll feel it hardest.

    Apple deserves credit for acting on what has been so obvious for so long, and that is computers are intimidating. Apple has borrowed from other industries (cars, consumer electronics) and carefully crafted a warm and fuzzy way to sell computers. That does not make them technically superior, just more easily marketable.

  • by The Happy Blues Man ( 35927 ) on Tuesday September 07, 1999 @01:41AM (#1698842) Homepage
    Well, Amelio sure as hell wasn't listening to the customers.

    Jobs came in and made many many cuts of some rather good-sounding projects. He cut dead wood and still brought out great products that the consumers loved. I seriously doubt that they could have done that without Jobs. If Apple produced the iMac and kept all the other things that were really dragging them down, it wouldn't have had nearly the impact.

    Listening to customers is the best way to get them to buy your products, of course, and Jobs did that (really, anyone could have done that, but he did) but to make a company profitable (especially one in the not-so-savory condition Apple was in), you need more than that.

    The Happy Blues Man
  • by engel ( 80827 ) on Tuesday September 07, 1999 @01:28AM (#1698843)
    Let's face it: Apple is cool because it has CULTURE. Microsoft has no culture. Not even corporate culture. It exists solely as a money making machine. Apple makes a cutlural statement, a leap into the imaginations of its users.

    From everything I've seen, Jobs is an evil bastard, even more so than Gates. But he's a bastard in the right way. He really beleives that by giving people 'insanely great' technology, he can change the world. Of course it is a world and culture that HE envisions, but at least it is something more than more and more money.

    The best thing that could happen is when OSX really gets going that geeks will be attracted to it (Anyone ever used a NeXT machine? Weren't they just THE COOLEST?). Then, between a real OS like OSX, a movement like Linux and OpenSource, and real technology like the G4 instead of X86, we'll do what Jobs envisioned: change the world.

    So the new Apple Renaissance is simply a revival of culture in Apple, a thing they have missed since Jobs the Conqueror left (dang he can do a great keynote, can't he?)

    Of course, it won't be in Jobs' image, but the geeks....

  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Tuesday September 07, 1999 @01:26AM (#1698844) Homepage
    I think the point that most authors miss about Apple is that they make computing fun, not cool or hip. When the G4 came out, countless geeks didn't say, "Ooo, I want an Apple," they said, "Ooo, I want a G4, cause I try and put Linux or something that will really take advantage of it on it." Geeks think the chip is cool, not the machine. Where Apple's success now lies (and it's evident by their marketing campaign and their product line) is in the fun of using a computer. Compare Apple's commercials to that of Microsoft or Sun. Apple uses music from the Beatles and touts ease-of-use and the funny little quirks of their machines. MS and Sun tout business applications and corporate development and how to use the computer for balancing the bank statement of a cow farm in Idaho or Wyoming or something. Which is more fun? Who are the majority of computer buyers (not Slashdotters)? And companies are noticing. They're copying the case designs, but really, that's only half of it. Apple has this image that their marketers, Katz almost points out, has created. G4s and tanks is serious stuff, but Apple says, "Hey, look, we're fun. We got a supercomputer here, but it ain't military, it's fun." And when consumers (not hard-core users) start up their new fun Apple, they find what really is a rather fun GUI to use, especially now that it's more stable.

    Many people would say that having a bunch of consumers start using an Apple would be a bad thing, that they're not seeing how computing really is, but aren't they? I mean, they're hopping on the 'Net where invariably, they're going to learn about computing and general and the philosophies (open-source, closed-source, ie. alternatives) associated there-in and they'll be doing it in a comfortable environment that screams this isn't a work machine, this is a play machine, so have fun. Apple's always been good at that (I remember when my father got his first Mac in 1984), but now they have that image and the success only follows naturally.

"In matrimony, to hesitate is sometimes to be saved." -- Butler