Speaking to analysts at the Morgan Stanley Semiconductor and System Conference, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealed that independent third party research group Student Monitor had found that in the education sphere intention to buy Mac – particularly portable Macs – is way up.
This is good news for Apple, but not necessarily good news for the particularly un-portable eMac.
Initially designed for the education market hence the 'e' the eMac, with its giant CRT display, SuperDrive, and even a dual headphone jack (so two students can share one computer), was initially so popular that Apple succumbed to demand and offered the cut-price (£549) Mac to the public.
But times have changed and it would appear that Apple is having much more success seeding the iBook to schools than the education specific eMac. And with the advent of the Mac mini at £339 an even lower priced option than the eMac (as long as a screen, mouse, and keyboard do not need to be bought) it could be concluded that the eMac is one more consumer computer than the company needs.
Over half of the Macworld readers voting in this week's poll do not agree that the eMac has had its day, however. While 45 per cent consider that it might need an update the eMac still utilises a G4 processor, unlike its smaller sibling the iMac which boasts a G5 another 7 per cent reckon Apple shouldn't "mess with perfection".
But of the 1,496 voting, 29 per cent think that the presence of the iMac, iBook, and Mac mini have made the eMac redundant, and another 19 per cent think: "CRTs are so last century".
One Macworld reader thinks that it is because it isn't portable that the eMac is perfect for schools. "I used to be Network Manager at a large Arts College and - believe you me - machines in Schools need to be big, bulky and virtually indestructible! I remember opening CD drive after CD drive in one particular suite of PCs where users had complained they weren't working ... only to find the little darlings had stuffed digestive biscuits into the drives. Maybe Apple should think about making a bullet proof / stainless steel case with no CD drive, no external openings and perhaps not even a screen. That'd stop 'em!"
Another writes: "The eMac is very suitable for a classroom. I attend a college where they only use Macs for video editing because they could get the eMacs. The Mac mini could be pinched too easily. The eMac seems ideal for this use, and nearly all the students are looking to buy Macs for home because they are using these at college - that has to be worth continuing."
"The eMac should not be discontinued as there is nothing else like it in the current Apple range. The Mac mini is too nickable and needs more effort for a school buying the missing bits and the iMac is too expensive for a (primary) school environment," writes another reader.
And the interest in eMacs in schools, at least in the UK, seems to be revealed in a Tesco's advert for the computers for schools promotion. One reader points out: "I was surprised to see an ad by Tesco regarding a computers for schools promotion this evening. And what did it feature, an Apple eMac. This must be an endorsement that schools like them."
The eMac still has its fans in the consumer space, even since the launch of the Mac mini. One reader writes: "The eMac continues to be Apple's bargain, entry level Mac. I know of two people who want to go the Mac route, and are working to a fairly tight budget. They like the all in one solution provided by the eMac. I doubt they are alone."
It has been almost a year since the eMac last had a speed bump and a price drop on April 13 2004 and Apple normally updates its machines, especially in the fast moving consumer sphere, at least every six months, suggesting the time is ripe for the eMac to have a refresh, or maybe even a face lift.
One reader doesn't think an update is necessary though. He writes: "Why should the eMac need updating frequently? It's not that type of computer. It needs to be good enough to do the sort of things that schools and colleges expect of it. It's not designed for cutting edge games and 3D graphic work. It's a workhorse and is built to last."
Another writes: "Overall, I think the eMac is by far the best value Mac ever produced and is, in my opinion, a far better option than the mini for anyone wanting to upgrade on a budget or for any switchers. It would be a great shame if the eMac was discontinued."