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The G4 and Apple's Second Coming

JonKatz posted more than 14 years ago | from the inviduality-vs-corporatism dept.

Apple 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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432 comments

The G4--Wrong Thing Done Wrong at the Wrong Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698446)

Apple's attempt to position the G4 as an ueber-computer is missing the point. It's still difficult to upgrade and loaded with proprietary hardware. 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).
The iMac--limited as it is--is perfect for its target market: people who just want to use the computer and not know about its innards. 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. 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.

oh please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698448)

Give me a break. I can easily squeeze out 400 Megaflop/sec on a PII 450 mhz. The apple G4's theoretical limit is 1 gigaflop/sec. Even if it could reach this, which I doubt because almost all applications will be held up by the bus, its only 2x as fast. This is a breakthrough?.. And before everyons shits a brick about the computer benig considererd a supercomputer, keep in mind that 20-30 gigaflop beowulf clusters are built all the time.

Another one for the Katz-man.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698450)

The more I read Katz, the more I begin to like what he has to say, I wonder if like Steve Jobs, he too can create reality distoration bubbles on slashdot.org ?

No longer the leader in Color and Style? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698457)

Well, it looks like they've taken some of Bill's comments to heart when he said that they were the leader in color technology.


I've heard this CPU being touted as a real rip-roarer, but why? What does it actually do different? (Please pardon the pun.)

Re: u r deluded... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698458)

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

Xah
xah@best.com
http://www.best.com/~xah/PageTwo_dir/more.html

Instant smash??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698486)

" Judging from Web chatter on tech sites from C-Net to Linux World to Slashdot, the G4 was an instant smash." Are they talking about another Slashdot? Half the comments I read could hardly be call "instant smash".

Apple Hype != Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698488)

Hmmm...Apple gets a chip, working at a paltry 400Mhz. Small Memory. No AGP. No possibility of a real video card. No T&L on the chip.

My new Dell cost $1700. It goes 600Mhz. It has a Diamond Viper 770. It is faster than a snake on ice. The Athlon, which I do not have, but have developed on, goes 700Mhz (800 by X-mas), and has T&L instructions on the chip. Intel is promising GIGAGHERZ next spring.

Apple will die this time the way they died last time: They can sell their computers to the religious and the naive.

The PC world, even though the operating system sucks, has ALL the best hardware designers in the world duking it out in a hyper-competive market, which makes us consumers win.

With Apple, you get a relatively closed system, an OS that is even worse than windows, crappy ISV and IHV support, and you pay $1000 per 50Mhz increment? Hey at least it is in a cool color! Maybe someday they will come out with a heterosexual version.

BTW, Apple greed has ALWAYS been there. Read any of the many books written about them. Their entire existance in the 80s-90s was about keeping their incredibly high profit margins and their stockholders happy. This so called 'new greed' is not new.

After reading Katz a couple of times, I think I know what his purpose on /. is... he is the kept troll.

-Will, game developer

ps. Why does no body talk about Linux on Apple Hardware? Do you guys really think that Apple's 12 year old OS is as good as Linux?

Re:The G4--Wrong Thing Done Wrong at the Wrong Tim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698491)

loaded with proprietary hardware

????

Where? Loaded?

Old FUD never dies, does it.

Re:The G4--Wrong Thing Done Wrong at the Wrong Tim (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698492)

Loaded with proprietary hardware? You mean like ATA-66 drive interfaces, AGP video, PCI Busses, PC-100 RAM, USB, IEEE 1394 and 10Base 10/100T? Apple's machines are propreitary because of the software, not the hardware. Apple has learned a long time ago that you need to use industry standard hardware to keep the costs down.

correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698501)

The G4's theoretical limit is 4 MFLOPS/sec, its average is one MFLOP/sec.

Re:...it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698502)

Apple products never lived up to Apple Hype? I think that is a cae of very selective memory. Apple's Mac II is still one of the landmarks of personal computing. It had features in 1987 that the Wintel world is still catching up on 12 years later - true PnP, external serial busses, built-in networking, a seamlessly integrated GUI. The Apple II was also a landmark of it's day, as is the iMac, despite how much /. readers hate it, it's immensly popular with those who have a life outside hacking.

Re:oh please (gigaflops) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698504)

Um, correct me if I'm wrong here, but... I though the G4 did 1+ gigaflops *continuously*, with a "theoretical limit" of 4 gigaflops. As for Beowulf clusters, their limitations have been discussed here before.

Re:Apple not for most geeks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698505)

tm23 writes:

> Why, most geeks would ask, would I pay 10-20% more for a machine simply because it has translucent plastic and the Apple logo?

1. Because it doesn't crash as much (vs. Windows)?
2. Because it is much easier to modify with peripherals, hard drives, OS upgrades?

Better quality is worth the extra price. I want to spend my time using my computer, not fixing it.

One more thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698506)

Now that Slashdot has this new rating system, I am nervous just posting a reply in fear of getting "Slashed" !!! Free speech, that's what we should be protecting.

Re:oh please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698510)

>The apple G4's theoretical limit is 1 gigaflop/sec. Even if it could reach this, which I doubt Nope! The theoretical limit is 4Giga SinglePrecision Flops (4 GigaFlops). The sustained rate is 1 GFlop. And trust me, that is of great value for doing all those Fast Fourier Transforms....

individual creativity....hahahahahaha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698511)

Apple's string of successes says a lot about the fact that individual creativity will beat out corporate marketers every single time.

huh? apple is making it on hip, slickly marketed (rolling stones tunes, how original) colorful machines. a tangerine g4 is no more "individually creative" than my P100 with linux and grateful dead stickers all over the front. (except my box looks much cooler).

besides IBM shipped a chicklet keyboard with the PC Jr. long before apple. how creative.

yer watchin' too much TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698512)

you been watchin too much tv. maybe you been holed up in that mountain shack too long, mr. katz? just seems like your first in line to buy the hype - regardless of whether or not it's apple related. if i didn't know better i'd think you to be a gen x'er (perhaps more specifically, a latch-key kid who grew up watching nuthin but tv).

how is it hard to upgrade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698513)

What proof have you of it being hard to upgrade. There are very few proprietary technologies in Mac's today, as thay have been trying to move to the 'standard'. Beside the G4 isn't aimed at the geek market, its aimed at the high end graphic artist market, i.e. desktop publishers web designers, digital video manipulators etc. For that its perfect, with all sorts of developers ready to take advantage of its fast technology.

Re:...it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698516)

specs were sealed? Baloney. Plenty of people developed drivers and Nubus cards for the Mac II. The fact of the matter is that anyone with a debugger can determine how the PnP of a Mac II worked. external serial busses - the fact of the matter is that PC's are Jut starting to get what Apple had in 1984, 15 years later built-in networking regardless of your opinion of Appletalk, show me a PC of the 1987 era that had anything as slick

Re:G3/G4 upgrade deliberately crippled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698517)

Fact: Upgrade vendors like XLR8 have already developed workarounds to the 1.1 firmware problem. There will be no problem upgrading a G3 to a G4. This is FIRMWARE which means IT CAN BE PATCHED.

Re:They may or may not be cute.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698518)

Er, you would need dual PII-600s just to match the performance. So what is the point? Run Linux on the thing and chill out. It's a lot of bang for the buck.

Re:Apple Hype != Reality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698519)

"working at a paltry 400Mhz"

Are you even a moderate computer user? MHz speeds are not anything worthy of comparison. You can get similar processing power out of two totally different MHz rated systems... This is really obvious in the PC world... AMD and Intel are not equal there.

"an OS that is even worse than windows"
"Do you guys really think that Apple's 12 year old OS is as good as Linux?"

In terms of stability? No. In terms of ease-of-use? Yes. My grandma could figure out the iMac well before she'd figure out X/Window. Heaven forbid she ever be dumped out to (Enter root password for maintenance or Ctrl-D for reboot.)... there's no comparison. And there are a lot more people like my grandma than there are like you and me.

"Small Memory. No AGP."

There _is_ AGP and 128 MB RAM is reasonably standard these days. There's a motherboard limitation of 2 GB. I don't think that's too unreasonable (though it'll certainly hurt Apple when people want to use the machine for large-scale database stuff under Mac OS X and need 4-8 GB) What do you think the limitation on your Dell is? Probably 512-1024 MB.

"With Apple, you get a relatively closed system"

What's the difference between that and Windows? You can make drivers for both. Both platforms use USB and PCI and now even AGP. Is it open-source? No... but big deal. The people who really care about open source tend to use Linux or *BSD, since they also come with the desire for stability and raw power. Again, my grandma doesn't care if it's open source.

The machines _are_ more expensive than they should be, I will not argue that. But to pretend that we're comparing 400 MHz G4's to 400 MHz PIII's is a bad idea. If you don't need to run at the higher speeds, why force it? In all systems, it introduces heat and energy issues at a minimum.

And again, why is Apple worth supporting? They work on Linux drivers for PPC (right there at the Cupertino campus). And they're making a perfect computer for us to point the novices to so they'll stop asking for our opinions and let us get back to work.

-Derek

Katz is deluded... (0)

LordStrange (19871) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698535)

Apple's string of successes says a lot about the fact that individual creativity will beat out corporate marketers every single time.

And just exactly which individual's creativity is responsible? Could it be someone on Apple's marketing team?

duh

Re:Apple is culture (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698536)

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.

All you damn hardcore techies (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1698537)

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.

Re:Apple is fun (1)

Patrik Nordebo (170) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698539)

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.

They may or may not be cute.. (1)

Dave Fiddes (832) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698546)

...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...

the "geeks" who like g4 are not likely to buy aple (1)

pixel fairy (898) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698548)

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
them).

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

maybe apple should look at matrox or number nine.

Pardon? (1)

tzanger (1575) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698564)

I've used it maybe twice in the time I've used it.

(joke)
Wow you must be from Microsoft Marketing Dept... I've never seen such a grasp on doublespeak. :-)
(/joke)

Free copy of LinuxPPC for this guy! (1)

haaz (3346) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698577)

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.

The "second age of Apple" (1)

Lamont (3347) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698578)

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 LinuxPPC....at least until some 3rd party PPC motherboards hit the market.

Not realy, no. (1)

Squeamish Ossifrage (3451) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698579)

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.

There's nothing revolutionar about the G4 (1)

el_nino (4271) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698583)

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' => 'niklas@nordebo.com',
'work' => 'www.pipe-dd.com', 'phone' => '+46-708-444705'

Re:oh please (1)

Jimjim (5574) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698585)

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 ?

Re:Apple is fun (1)

Jimjim (5574) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698586)

Um, Patrik, go back and read the post again, 'kay ?

Apple doesn't deserve credit for G4 (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698593)

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.

Buying a mac is like buying a notebook (1)

Tyrell (12420) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698600)

Agreed.
I like macs, but I won't be buying any more because of the difficulty in upgrading them. It's just like trying to upgrade a notebook computer: if an upgrade path exists at all, it's usually prohibitively expensive.

I think apple does best with "sealed" machines that users are willing to throw away when they have reached the end of their useful lives.

Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698605)

The return of Jobs may have lead to more financial gains for apple, but it's also lead to some technological backstepping.

The elimination of SCSI, Serial Ports, and ADB has alienated many of their formerly loyal customers. I'm one of those people. I got my first Mac when I was 15, it was a Mac Plus. Then when I was 18 I got a Performa 550. Then when I was 21 I got a Performa 6400.

I don't plan on buying another new Apple system again. I've got several hundred dollars invested in my peripherals. I'm not going to trash perfectly good equipment just to use the new equipment. I began the transition from the MacOS to Linux, I have a new alternate OS of choice.

Apple has fucked me over for the last time. When a company tinkers with their computers' firmware to preventprocessor upgrades, radically changes system board design and refuses to work with other companies to help them develop alternate OSes, kills off cloning, leaves customers stranded with peripherals that won't work with their new machines and claims it was all done to ensure the company's survival, well if things are so bad that THIS is what you need to do to survive, then count me OUT. I don't want to be a part of that club anymore.

I'll buy a 7300 and put a G3/4 upgrade in it before I'll plunk down cash for a new machine.

Steve Jobs has convinced people that he's fucking them over for their own good. -Paraphase "We need to do these things to keep Apple healthy, we need to build incompatibility into out machines so you have to buy new ones instead of upgrading. If you just upgraded your machine instead of buying a new one, that costs Apple money."

What's worse is that people actually BELIVE THIS CRAP! There are idiots out there who'd line up to get kicked in the balls if Jobs said it would help Apple.

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

LK

Re:...it works (1)

warlock (14079) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698611)

I completely disagree with Apple's strategies - and I sincerely do not understand why anyone would like to invest in a platform that is so tightly controlled (G3->G4 upgrade? WHAT upgrade?).

I'd like to think myself as a rational person, and not an anti-Mac fanatic and I do acknowledge that some people simply do not have a choice (for example some great hard disk recording tools are only available on Mac IIRC).

I agree with you that their strategies (good or bad, ethical or unethical, whatver) clearly are producing good results for the company.

Now the thing is: G4 looks like a decent processor. Can I get a G4 CPU and a G4 motherboard, like I can buy x86 components for example?

I ask this because I see two markets for the new G4:

Previous Mac users (small percentage of total computer users, say 10%) and users of other platforms that might be tempted to migrate.
Most seem to me of similar importance (ie
they could attract more or less similar sales).

These oter plaforms wether we like it or not means mostly windows. I consider it unlikely that any windows user will be migrating to MacOS any time soon, so they're pretty much locked in to x86.

Now, for people that are using unix on their production machines, there are several choices, including pentium, athlon, alpha etc. Linux runs well on all these platforms for instance, and is quite popular.

For Apple to gain a foothold in this potential market they will have to make their stuff available in the way that people using these OSes (like linux) like them: Ie not in 5 different predetermined take it or leave it configurations, but pretty much DIY.

I dunno. Good luck to apple.

Ewww... lots of ranting, apologies :)

-W

Apple (1)

NutZac (18515) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698654)

I started off with Macs. My first was a Mac Plus. Those first few years were the foundation I have using computers in general. For several years I claimed that I would never touch one again, but... Jon has a ponit: sometimes awesome technology grabs us by the pair and takes us for a ride.

Mac, PC, they're all just machines (1)

Chris Worth (18843) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698662)

Guess what? The guy who created that 1984 TV ad (his name's Steve Hayden) for the Mac now heads up advertising work for... IBM. (I know this because he's arguably my boss.)

There's no ideology in this game, people, just the perceptions media helps create. It's just companies selling stuff, that's all. Don't forget that down the years it's Apple that's closed every machine into sealed proprietarydom, Apple who shut down clone vendors when they became too successful, Apple that makes it an invalidating offence to lift the hood.

It's not what companies build that matters; it's what users do with the machines. And in the ad industry I've grown very bored with the whiny dogma of the Macolytes in the design studio; they've sounded the same in all five countries I've lived in. Give me my rusty, ragtag box of thrown-together junk over a Mac any day.

Geeks do not run the world (1)

LL (20038) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698665)

Much as geeks like to think otherwise, companies like Apple cannot afford to develop computer for the 10-15% of the population that are power-users. For many people good enough at reasonable cost would be adequate for their needs. Afterall, how many word processors need 1 Gflop performance?

The hardware is just the canvas, what are the killer applications that will drive the next generation of products? I suspect the consumers would be a lot happier for people to come up with good tools to make their life a little easier. I think we can accept that Apple has recognised this trend by reducing the range of choices into 4 product lines with perhaps the personal mobile device the only missing gap. Perhaps its time that geeks (and I mean it in the nicest way) get their grubby hands off the technology and allow normal people to define what they want. Smart salespeople don't sell products, they help the customer achieve their desires.

LL

What is he talking about? (1)

vitaflo (20507) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698668)

Ok, so I own a G3, have always used Macs, and was interested in reading this article. But what the hell was your point? That somehow the G4 is the "second coming" of Apple? I think you're jumping the gun here. While the G4 is incredibly cool, this box isn't going to become the supreme power in the universe. It's just a computer (and a pretty fast one at that), and something else will come along in a couple months that claims to be faster than the G4. Are you going to then write an article about that box claiming it's the second coming for [insert company here]?

What about MAC OS X ? (1)

RoyBoy (20792) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698669)

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.

Yes, I agree that it's cool that MacFans can buy a 450 MHz system for under $4K, but let's not forget the other great advance that Jobs and Co. learned the hard way at NeXT -- you need a good OS, and not just a pretty GUI face! MAC OS X is the biggest news in the history of Apple, and the press is glossing it over. For anyone who didn't already know: OS X is UNIX! Yes, the NeXT OS is not dead, and it is the real reason Apple will thrive in the months and years ahead.

Anyone who remembers AU/X knows how badly Apple screwed this up, and any professional programmer knows that MacOS's ridiculous design is the major factor keeping REAL(tm) computing applications off the Mac. I'll bet I can count the number of existing scientific / engineering / medical apps developed specifically for the Mac on one hand. If Jobs really wants to tout the G4 as a supercomputer, let's see it running an app someone might want a supercomputer for, not just a really fast Gaussian blur in PhotoShop!

Jon, as always a nice bit of prose but I think you really missed the mark on this one. Good luck next time.

Re:The new Apple is all about marketing (1)

beavis88 (25983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698681)

The assertion that '50MHz costs $1000' is pretty erroneous. The 450MHz machine also sports an extra 64 megs of RAM, a 20 gig HD (twice the size), a zip drive, and an AGP-based rage128 (as opposed to PCI on the low end), as well as a DVD drive with hardware decoding. Not to mention a new motherboard design that provides smoking fast throughput on the system bus as well as 100 meg ethernet, etc.

This said, though, I won't contest your analysis of the 500 MHz -- Apple (and others too) have always charged a premium for the highest end machine. There will always be macho types with fat pockets who just want the fastest machine money can buy; Apple does well to make good money off them, because they generally won't care what it costs.

Re: u r deluded... (1)

networkz (27842) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698687)

"neither facts absolve APLLE from lousy business practices and DEEP DEEP greed"

Aside from your inability to accurately spell (no offence!), what else do expect from a corporation like that. Of course they're going to be greedy - it's they're fackin' job!!

At least Apple are more innovative than most corps I could mention! (Red Hat maybe (!!!) one of the few exceptions - but we've yet to see what upfolds with them - come back in a few years time and we'll see).

Re: u r deluded... (1)

networkz (27842) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698688)

"neither facts absolve APLLE from lousy business practices and DEEP DEEP greed"

Aside from your inability to accurately spell (no offence!), what else do expect from a corporation like that. Of course they're going to be greedy - it's they're job to!! You can't expect them to put themselves at a disadvantage in the cut-throat computer business.

At least Apple has the grace to be a lot more innovative than most corps in the industry.

Red Hat may be one of the few exceptions - but we've yet to see what unfolds with them - come back in a few years time and we'll see.

Apple's back... but when will M$ strike again? (1)

networkz (27842) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698689)

Ever since Apple was at it's all time low (stock/market share/etc), and M$ gave it some mindshare injection with it's $150M investment plus Application support they've been waiting.

Why? Because of the DoJ anti-trust case.

The question I have, is what point - at what threshold will M$ decide "Right, we've given them enough now, we'll pull applications/support" or do something that will seriously put Apple at a disadvantage.

You can be sure that M$ wont sit by and let Apple gain momentum like it is now for too much longer.

Then again, maybe Apple is in too much of a niche position for M$ to ever worry about them again... no, I don't think so!

Re:Apple is fun (1)

GatorMike (29847) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698690)

Some of us wanted one for a BeOS machine

Re: u r deluded... (1)

Wah (30840) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698692)

style vs. substance, perchance :-)

Re:Macs aren't toys (1)

The Happy Blues Man (35927) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698700)

Have you used a Mac for a length of time? If not then kindly refrain from telling me about the customization of my machine.

I can customize my machine to anything I want it to look like. I have plenty of industry standard components which allow me to use the same peripherals that PCs use (speaking of which, I have a USB mouse on my box now that was sold as a Win98 mouse).

Why, might I add, do you need the specs to the motherboard circutry? I know where everything is on my motherboard. I know quite a bit about my computer, and I haven't been sued.

Seriously, why must you continue the myth that Macs aren't good for anything really technological? Please reply to this, I would like your input so I may debunk whatever myths you might have gotten FUDed to you.

The Happy Blues Man

Re:Pardon? (1)

The Happy Blues Man (35927) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698701)

Hahahaha! Wow. That was completely a brain fart for me.

Allow me to clarify: I've used the floppy drive approximately twice in the time I've used the computer.

It's amazing how your brain knows what you're talking about, but no one else does.
The Happy Blues Man

Re:...it works (1)

Max Planck (36538) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698703)

I don't want to be too mean to Apple (after all, the G4 is a beast), but they seem to continually miss the point. Look at their history: they created a great OS back in 1980s, and then let it sit there and gather dust. Rather than continue innovating, they let Microsoft come in, take all their best ideas, and gain an even larger market share. Instead of innovating, the Apple community in general just sat there and cried "Foul!" Now, finally, they are beginning to see the error of those ways. There have been some great improvements to the MacOs (although OSX kind of bugs me: it steals some crappy things from Windows 9x that I'd rather see die). The iMac is a great idea for home computing, but the G4 is a powerful beast of a computer, and every geek wants to get their hands in it. Maybe it's time that Apple rethink their closed-system policy. At least in regards to the powerful machines like G4.

I'd be a devout Apple user (like I was early in high school), if only they'd listen to what I want.

I don't care (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698709)

I would never get a mac, only for one reason, I HAVE NO MONEY!...

seriously though, I don't know about you, but I could care less what my PC looks like. Put it in a cardboard box, on the floor, in a bag, who cares? as long as it works and gets the job done, I love it!

Maybe I am just strange? Most of you play games (not that that's bad), my system has no games on it (unless you count Windows, AKA "Dodge The GPFs!")
The only mac I would ever think about purchasing is an old one (1980s), just because it's like owning a bit of history, so maybe that means 10/20 years from now I will purchase a G4? Who knows?

well thats just my thoughts on the subject.

#----------------------------
$mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;

Re:The G4--Wrong Thing Done Wrong at the Wrong Tim (1)

cshotton (46965) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698710)

Apple's attempt to position the G4 as an ueber-computer is missing the point. It's still difficult to upgrade and loaded with proprietary
hardware.


Hmmm, is it the PCI bus, the IDE controller, the USB ports, or the FireWire interface that makes it difficult to upgrade? Oh yeah, maybe it's the ethernet port, or perhaps it's the SVGA connector? Maybe you meant the three-prong electric connection?



What, specifically, did you mean by "difficult to upgrade" and "proprietary hardware"? Have you used, owned, or even looked at a Mac since the Mac Plus? Your dogma regarding Macs needs to be upgraded to reflect something bordering on reality...

Apple isn't run out of a garage any more (1)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698713)

Let's not get carried away. Apple isn't a couple of kids shooting a movie about a witch with a camcorder from Circuit City; they're a big company. Apple's advantage is that they have complete control over their machines, so they can make sudden changes in features (no more floppy drive) or technology (68K -> PPC) as they see fit. On the PC, harware companies are stomping all over each other to try to force their products to be a new standard, and the fallout is what makes things so messy for all of us.

But without an operating system... (1)

Bilestoad (60385) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698724)

OK, so it's nice hardware. I'd like one, and I could in fact go get one if I wanted. But - Apple don't ever see another dollar of mine until they deliver on the promise of a real operating system. You may have an Indycar in your garage, but unless you can drive like Fangio it won't do you any good. Same with the G4 - without real software you may as well have the go-kart that is the overclocked Celeron.

Re:Apple Hype != Reality (1)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698731)

Hmmm...Apple gets a chip, working at a paltry 400Mhz. Small Memory. No AGP. No possibility of a real video card. No T&L on the chip.

My new Dell cost $1700. It goes 600Mhz. It has a Diamond Viper 770. It is faster than a snake on ice. The Athlon, which I do not have, but have developed on, goes 700Mhz (800 by X-mas), and has T&L instructions on the chip. Intel is promising GIGAGHERZ next spring.


Straight megahertz isn't the only deciding factor in speed. The G4 400 is about 3 times faster than your Intel 600. It performs more operations per cycle for one thing... Perhaps you should look into what those numbers you are spouting really mean...

Megahertz is just the number of cycles per second,
400 million vs 600 million.
the G4 performs something like 28 operations per cycle, for exact numbers you can check The Daily iMac, the P3 performs something like 8 operations per cycle. Now, that's 400x28 vs 600x8, or 11200 vs 4800 operations per second. The G4 is quite obviously faster. [dailyimac.com]

Please point out any glaring factual innacuracies in my statements, leave the spelling and grammar to God.

Kintanon

Re:Apple Hype != Reality (1)

Kintanon (65528) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698732)

Damnit, I know I closed that html tag... Oh well... It's a BIG link, sue me.>:)

Kintanon

Apple induces something? (1)

Emil Brink (69213) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698736)

OK, another boring JK-bashing post: ...$1,599 for a Mac with a 400-megahertz processor; $2,499 for 450 MH available in September, and $3,499 for 500 MH...
Those are pretty large coils, I bet! Free link for Jon Katz' continued education: SI Derived Units [unc.edu] . I recommend looking at the first one. It's frequently very useful when talking about processor speeds. :)

Re:Macs aren't toys (1)

lscoughlin (71054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698737)

Macs are toys.
Customization?
what, changing colors?
big deal.

The guts of the system are undocumented and locked up tight, and if you do figure something out, you get sued.

Re:There's nothing revolutionar about the G4 (1)

lscoughlin (71054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698738)

The iMac was groundbreaking

Could you define groundbreaking?
I seem to be mising something.

Could you tell me whats ground breaking
about organ bank parts stacked in an aquarim
case with an apple logo slapped on it complete with to big price tag?

-T

Re:Apple is culture (1)

lscoughlin (71054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698739)

Culture?

Apples culture is a play, and goes down according to a script written by a marketing guru. You can go on and on about what you believe HE thinks he's doing, but if you look at his policies and what he has done, jobs only vision is that of a dollar bill. He has a cute way of exorcising his greed, and its not quite perfect yet, but in its core, apple is probably the greediest computer company out there.

Re:...it works (1)

lscoughlin (71054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698740)


true pnp?
who knows, the specs were all sealed.
external serial busses
now there's something to brag about.
Built in networking
Appletalk only counts to those who
think the pony express is better than
UPS.

Your right though, the apple 2 was a great computer, It was also insanely overpriced.

I keep hearing that the iMac is groundbreaking or a breakthrough or something. Other than it's sales recorods, could someone explain to me why?

-T

Re:Macs aren't toys (1)

lscoughlin (71054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698742)

Lets not start technological
Lets start in the mac-domain. Graphics.

Specifically high quality modeling in rendoring.

Oh wait... their aren't any...

apple's successes... (1)

jsmoses (82337) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698753)

It's interesting years after the fact to watch Apple try to make up for old mistakes. I remember when the argument was that it was better to pay more for the Mac because it was so much easier to use than a PC. And it was. DOS was *hard*, dammit, for people who'd never used anything like it before. But Apple lost on their bet, which was that the typical user would drive the new era, and not the "technical" user. Jobs thought that he could make a computer that would make computing accessible to everyone. Who would have thought that the computers would make a new kind of person instead? This new box makes some steps in the right direction, more powerful, not quite *as* expensive. Still, wish they would release the internals...

Re:oh please (1)

Darby (84953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698768)

The apple G4's theoretical limit is 1 gigaflop/sec.

No!
Its base sustained performance is 1 GFlop/s
Its theoretical maximum (reachable if every cycle
managed to cram 4 32 bit operations into the 128 bit vector units) is 4MFlop/s.
So it is a minimum of 2.5X as fast going exclusively by MFlops. Actual results will vary depending on the actual applications and optimizations.

Computisation != Freedom. (1)

adnan (87173) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698779)

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 and singleminded 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.

Sorry for double post. (1)

adnan (87173) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698780)

sorry.

Good article... (1)

chadmulligan (87873) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698784)

Quite a change to read a more balanced article from the usual mindless Apple-bashing here on /.

Many non-Apple users lump "Apple the company", "Apple products" and "Apple hardware/software designers" into a single unit... for most companies this might be convenient, but for talking about Apple that's a mistake.

I'm an Apple user since 1977, a Mac user since 1984. In that time I've liked many Apple products (and despised a few), complained about many of Apple's policies as a company... but I've no complaints about the hardware and software designers, many of which are top-notch.

If sometimes (or often, depending on whoever you ask) the effective results could be better, that's only to be expected; getting these 3 vectors into alignment seems to be nearly impossible. Meanwhile, I own a Daystar Genesis and a B/W G3 on which I do 90% of my work, very nicely... and a much-accursed Pentium II for running a high-priced Windows-only EDA package.

Linux? I've hired a Linux consultant to set up a server... for my desktop it's not ready. I'd rather wait for Mac OS X (workstation). DR1 looks promising.

Re:a little math reveals G4 hype... not really (1)

chadmulligan (87873) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698785)

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!

Your math would be correct 10 years ago, but not today. That's what caches are for, especially the PPC backside cache. With the new cache prefetch channels, the math comes out very differently. For real-world applications the G4 can hit 10-25% of the theoretical 4 GFLOP-limit while using full memory bandwidth.

Corporate Individuality, who are they kidding? (1)

valinor (87878) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698786)

Jobs can say anything he wants. but "express your individuality by buying our mass-produced product" is silly. The G4 is cool, but my buck will go to putting linux on it.

Macs aren't toys (1)

dti62 (87885) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698787)

How come everyone assumes that Macs are toys. You can customise you system just as much as you can with Win9*. True it is not as good as Linux, but it is powerful for new users and since when is complexity better? You don't want to have to type in web addresses every time you go to a site so you use bookmarks, but that is simpliar, we sould throw it out. No there is a good balance. I think that OS X will have enough power like in Linux but also the simplicity of a Mac.

Necessity, technical inferiority (1)

TheITguy (87891) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698789)

"Why is the G4 necessary?"

Why is the PIII necessary? The Athlon? The PIII-Xeon?

Etc.

TheITguy
one happy owner of a new Powerbook Lombard, which

a)runs linuxppc
b)has a FIVE HOUR battery life off one battery(maybe if you put two batteries into your Intel notebook, you'll get this; if I put two in, I can work ALL DAY and spend two hours working at home before I'll have to plug in.)
c)supports 384MB of ram(only high end intel laptops support this)
d)supports TWO independent displays, one at 24 bit, other at 16 bit, if you plug in an external monitor; no other notebook in the world will give you two displays with no extra hardware, except a powerbook.
e)is FASTER than ANY other notebook on the planet(1MB backside cache, 400MHz G3, which has been proven to be faster than a similar-speed PII)
f)has builtin SCSI, SVIDEO out(great for DVDs), g)can "sleep" indefinately(instead of a few hours like most intel notebooks)
h)Superdrive or Zip available for the hot-swappable expansion bay(only a few intel laptops have Zip drives or Superdrives that will fit in them; usually only certain IBM thinkpads, which cost a fortune for lackluster features.)
i)weighs 5.9 pounds with battery and CD drive(cd drive removable, for a high performance laptop that comes very close to being an ultralight; how much are those Dell 7000's? 7-8lb?
j)has BUILT IN FAST ethernet(how many intel laptops have builtin ethernet AT ALL?)


So, what's this about Apple being technically inferior? I have yet to see a intel laptop that offers similar performance, flexibility, and features. How much did I spend? $3,000 for a "reconditioned" unit that's like new. $3500 for a brand new 400MHz machine; $2500 for a 333 w/no DVD.

Apple vs. Microsoft shouldn't apply here.... (1)

psylence (87893) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698790)

Is it just me, or does this article try to compare Apple's hardware engineering talent with Microsoft's software monopoly? I realize it is only natural to compare anything non-MS to Microsoft but in this case I would think Intel would be a better enemy of Apple. THEY'RE the one's making the new chips, Microsoft just makes them run slower...

Re:Apple induces something? (1)

psylence (87893) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698791)

I must admit that gave me a chuckle and JK's expense... Should I feel bad? :)

Re:G3/G4 upgrade deliberately crippled? (2)

noy (12372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698811)

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)...

G4 (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698813)

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!

Re:Macs aren't toys (2)

Shoeboy (16224) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698816)

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.
--Shoeboy.

Apple not for most geeks (2)

tm23 (17908) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698821)

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.

Re:...it works (2)

fusion94 (19221) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698822)

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 ?"

...it works (2)

Max von H. (19283) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698823)

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

ummm Jon? (2)

GW Hayduke (19878) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698824)

"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!!!

Re:Apple is culture (2)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698825)

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?

Kaa

Katz got a free PC (err, G4) (2)

Wah (30840) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698826)

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.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Re: What it does differently (2)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698827)

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.

Re:..it works (to the chagrin of the technophiles) (2)

The Happy Blues Man (35927) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698828)

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

Overlooking the obvious (2)

Afrosheen (42464) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698829)

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.

Go Apple Go (2)

First Person (51018) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698830)

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.

G3/G4 upgrade deliberately crippled? (2)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698831)

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 [wired.com] 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?

Finally (2)

gbooker (60148) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698833)

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.

a little math reveals G4 hype, no better than PCs (2)

LinuxParanoid (64467) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698834)

...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,
LP

Re:...it works (2)

lscoughlin (71054) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698836)

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.

Computisation != Freedom. (2)

adnan (87173) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698837)

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.

Re:G3/G4 upgrade deliberately crippled? (3)

Ethan Butterfield (7481) | more than 14 years ago | (#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.

a little late... (3)

noy (12372) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698840)

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 :>

The new Apple is all about marketing (3)

shambler snack (17630) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698841)

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.

Re:...it works (3)

The Happy Blues Man (35927) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698842)

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

Apple is culture (3)

engel (80827) | more than 14 years ago | (#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....

Apple is fun (5)

Hrunting (2191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1698844)

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.
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