The new iMac is the hot topic among US-based industry designers.

One article, in Wired Magazine, carries the reactions of several industry designers to Apple's new G4 consumer desktop machine.

Chuck Jones, vice president of design at Whirlpool, said competitors find it difficult to differentiate between products when they all have similar specifications: "One of the best ways to offer a compelling reason for consumers to choose your product is to leverage design, to create a whole new emotional relationship with consumers."

Chris Conley, an assistant professor of product design at Illinois Tech's Institute of Design likes the wayApple strives to make its computers "look and think different".

He said: "Apple combines the different look with a different experience. Very few people will buy it just because it looks cool. Many will want more, and I think it offers that."

However, some experts were less effusive. Design consultant Stephanie Smith believes the fashion card is often overplayed: "Computers are different to clothes or cars. Although the laptop is kind of a fashion accessory, a desktop machine that sits on the desk in your office is different."