Apple Retiring Original iMac as Sales Slacken
Mar 19, 3:59 pm ET
By Duncan Martell
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Slowing sales of Apple Computer Inc.'s original iMac computer led it to retire its wildly successful all-in-one computer with a futuristic appearance that reasserted the iconic computer maker's claim to design leadership.
An Apple spokeswoman said on Wednesday that it was immediately ending production of the original iMac, a gumdrop-shaped computer that came in myriad colors, including Blueberry and "Bondi Blue."
Later versions came in "dalmation" and "flower power" patterns. Apple said it sold more than 6 million of them. The iMac, with a 15-inch screen and no floppy disk drive and initially costing $1,299, was introduced by co-founder and then interim-Chief Executive Steve Jobs in May 1998 to thunderous applause at a news conference near the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California.
"The iMac allowed Apple to keep its hand in the game and reasserted the company's leading position in design," said Roger Kay, an analyst at market research firm International Data Corp. "After that, people then expected Apple to introduce astounding products regardless of the category."
Apple (AAPL.O) has since introduced its iPod digital music player, which was so successful that it designed one that would work with rival technologies, including computers using Intel -compatible processors and Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT.O) Windows operating system.
When it was introduced, many compared it to the revamped and reintroduced Volkswagen Beetle and noted the nostalgia that both evoked in consumers. The first iMac harkened back to the original Macintosh, introduced in 1984.
Declining sales of the bulbous machine prompted the decision to end production, as Apple customers embraced the revamped iMac that looks like a lamp-base with a swiveling flat-panel display above it.
Apple is still selling its popular eMac computer, which has the same design as the original iMac, but costs less and is aimed principally at the education market, the spokeswoman said.
Remaining models of the original iMac may still be available at local computer stores or other online stores.
Apple, which has about 2 percent market share of worldwide PC unit shipments, stopped selling the original iMac on its online store on Tuesday.
"It was a product that had a great run," Kay said. "The number of millions of those things sold, it was quite astounding." (INTC.O)
Never bought one but it was great to see Apple become more visible and not go belly up. I think it was good stab at breaking away at the Wintel monopoly. AMD helped also. Apple just needed more software side help IMO. Warcraft III hybrid was a very good step in the right direction on Blizzards side.