The original Mac, now affectionately known as the “toaster,” was decried by all and sundry for the fact that it was virtually un-upgradable. Heck, you even needed a special 12″ long torx screwdriver just to get into the beast, and even then, there was nothing to expand except RAM. There was no hard drive.
Since that time, and up until the first iMac, Macs had become easier and easier to upgrade. This upgradability reached its zenith during the short-lived clone era when the Mac became almost as easy to upgrade as a PC. When Steve made his triumphant return and launched the first iMac, all that changed. Once again his vision took precedence and the concept of the PC as an appliance started to return.
Sadly, Steve is no longer with us, but I can’t help but think that he is smiling down on Infinite Loop today! The new 21.5″ iMac is the most appliance-like Mac ever made. You can’t even open it up with a screw driver! The display is actually glued to the case and requires judicious use of a heat gun to remove. Even then you can only replace the hard drive or completely disassemble the unit to upgrade the RAM.
None of these tasks are for the faint of heart. New double-sided tape is required to button it up again. This brings entirely new meaning to the phrase seen on almost all consumer appliances these days; “there are no user serviceable parts inside.”
In it’s defence however, perhaps Steve is right. The PC market has matured, and perhaps is past its zenith. The day of the upgradable PC is probably past for most of us, and an appliance like the iMac is all we need. How many would-be PC users are now more than satisfied with an iPad? And what is an iPad if not an appliance?
No one knows its market like Apple. Apple knows very well that the vast majority of its iMac customers will never have a desire to upgrade. After all, with a large hard drive, a fast processor and 8GB of RAM it will easily last the three to four years the average user keeps a Mac before replacing it.
“North of Northeast” is a column that offers commentaries from a Canadian perspective. Gerry Gerry is the head honcho at Curry Systems & Consulting (www.currysystems.com).