Apple's under pressure to innovate its desktop consumer iMac once more, as sales of that product continue to decline.
Business Week columnist Alex Salkever this morning proclaims "the iMac needs to lose its head", declaring: "Its integrated tilt-swivel flat-panel monitor has gone from a competition killer to just plain deadly. Apple should set it free."
Apple announced the new-look iMac to a tidal wave of critical acclaim, including making the cover of Time magazine, a step which saw images of the new product appear on newsagent's shelves the day before Apple CEO Steve Jobs' keynote speech. It also saw a line of Apple staffers handing out complimentary copies of Time to keynote attendees following the Jobs presentation.
The product sold well and maintained the design icon status of the category – not bad for a device that was reportedly inspired by the plants in Steve Jobs' wife's garden.
The market is changing as consumers currently favour notebooks over desktops; sales figures from all manufacturers in all markets confirm this trend. The result? "In the first fiscal quarter of 2004 ending December 27, 2003, iMac unit sales and revenue plummeted by 24 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively, compared to the same period last year," Salkever reports.
Though the product remains profitable, Salkever suggests Apple must beef-up the processor, "the G4 chips are getting creaky", he said.
"IBM just released specs on a new generation of G5 chips that will have the lower power consumption and heat output required to keep a faster iMac from overheating inside its tiny, milky-white case", he claims.
Salkever suggests Apple cut the iMacs screen off, saying: "a pretty little machine that sits beneath your desk and provides enough power to do nice things but not enough to run a advertising agency – might fit into the plans of people who, say, own an Apple laptop and want a second machine."
Salkever's argument seemingly favours a Cube-like computer that connects wirelessly to a breed of portable monitor: "If Apple made the monitor relatively portable and added wireless data capability or even a TV card, it would have an untethered display par excellence and a solid competitor in a budding field of wireless monitors and TV," he said.