Golden Rumor Convergence (6/6/01)
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So is it, or isn't it? As faithful viewer Tony McDaid kindly informed us, somebody emailed The Register a line drawing purported to be a representation of the next-generation iMac that we're all expecting next month. But you folks are all too familiar with how this stuff works-- the vast majority of the "exclusive leaked pics" out there are fakes originating from pixel-pushers with too much time on their hands. Indeed, if The Reg's graphic is The Real Thing, then why haven't Apple's lawyers fired a shot from their well-worn Cease And Desist cannon? They're usually right quick about that sort of thing. After all, it's not like they're hard at work on the Future Power lawsuit anymore...

Furthermore, while we admit that line drawings generally aren't all snazzy and eye-poppingly glorious, we're still a little skeptical that Apple would replace the current iMac's design with one that's so unabashedly ordinary. We're looking at a two-piece system, here: a rectangular, flat pizza box base unit with ports on one side and the removable drive on the other (which brings to mind nothing more striking than the lovable but plain Macintosh LC), and a flat-screen LCD display which looks essentially like a PowerBook screen with the traditional iMac "foot" underneath. Unless it glows in the dark and hovers six inches above the tabletop, if Apple's hoping to capture the imagination of the computer-buying public with a design like this, perhaps it's time to send Jon Ive on a much-needed extended vacation so he can recharge.

Oh, but wait-- is that a stylus clipped to the edge of the screen? Suddenly it all comes clear: Apple is downplaying the new iMac's visual design in order to dazzle people with function, instead. Allegedly the screen isn't just detachable; it's a full-fledged tablet-style WebPad which runs on its own battery, can wirelessly transmit and receive data to and from the iMac's base, and contains its own Quartz imaging engine. The upshot is that a user can grab the screen of his or her iMac, take it into the living room, plop down on the couch, and use the stylus to view and interact with applications that are actually running on the iMac itself.

Sound familiar? Well, it should, because this is a nifty convergence of at least three sort-of-separate and kind-of-distinct rumors: the flat-screen Mac OS X iMac, the "iPad" Mac tablet capable of "screen-sharing" with another Mac, and the Quartz "thin client" scenario from a few months back. Oh, and don't forget the heavily substantiated InkWell handwriting recognition rumors; isn't it interesting that we haven't seen that module pop up yet? ZDNet's screenshots last summer looked real enough to us (though again, you have to wonder where the lawyers are hiding if the slideshow is indeed genuine).

So in this scenario, the iMac will basically be an "iPad" bundled with a matching low-end screenless Mac base unit, while iPads would also be available separately for customers who want mobile tablet-style access to their Power Macs as well. It certainly sounds like one heck of a plan for total world domination, assuming it's even remotely true-- so we have to ask again: is it, or isn't it?


 
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The above scene was taken from the 6/6/01 episode:

June 6, 2001: It's an iMac. No, it's a WebPad. Stop, you're both right! Meanwhile, when it comes to video editing, Apple's the company fighting against closed architecture and expensive proprietary systems, and a recent study shows that one in four computers has been physically abused...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3098: Our World's Upside-Down (6/6/01)   Picture this: you've got two corporations, Company A and Company B, and they both compete in the same market. Company A was first out the door with its product, and makes proprietary hardware and software systems that cost a ton of money, but a certain segment of the market consists of staunch supporters who (sometimes snobbishly) insist that you get what you pay for...

  • 3099: "Ow, Stop Pummelling Me!" (6/6/01)   Prepare to be shocked: according to a survey mentioned in a Wired article kindly sent to us by faithful viewer Daniel M. Dreifus, "one in every four computers has been physically attacked by its owner."...

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