Phil Schiller, analysts discuss the iMac G5

Apple Computer Inc.'s Senior Vice President of Hardware Product Marketing, Phil Schiller, officially kicked off Apple Expo Paris this week introducing the iMac G5 during his keynote address. Analysts are unanimous in their support for the new consumer machine and the strategic ties Apple has drawn between the iMac and the iPod in marketing the computer.

"From the company that brought you the iPod"

The marketing campaign for the iMac G5 will leave no doubt in consumers' minds what else this computer company has delivered lately. "From the company that brought you the iPod" will be part of the message consumers will get when they see advertising for the iMac G5.

"It's meant to express a couple of things -- It's not to hide behind the iPod or to downplay the Mac at all," Apple's Phil Schiller, told MacCentral. "Since we designed the iMac, a lot has happened at Apple -- probably the most influential thing that has happened in years is the iPod, both in terms of product design and having greater reach in the marketplace. It's still an iMac, it's still what an iMac is about."

The design and marketing of the iMac G5 with its ties to the iPod makes a lot of sense to analysts, who have seen the iPod as one of the shinning stars in Apple's product lines.

"I think the new design will surprise many people," said Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal. "While I think this was the natural next step for Apple in terms of the evolution of the iMac's all-in-one design, I also think that it is unconventional. It's simple, functional and almost spartan in appearance. The new iMac's design is reminiscent of the iPod screen and I am certain that this was intentional. With the iPod taking a prominent role in Apple's product strategy, it makes sense to capitalize on the iPod's familiar form."

Mid-September -- can they deliver?

Apple has had issues over the years with delivery of its most sought after products, including the first redesigned 15-inch flat panel iMac. For the current release Apple says they will ship in mid-September -- an achievable date with the information they have available, according to Schiller.

"We are certainly working hard to do it," said Schiller. "Anytime we announce availability, we are going with the best information of what we believe will happen -- we believe we will ship in mid-September. I do think it will be very popular and we are at the beginning of the ramp, so, of course it's going to be constrained at the beginning."

Schiller points out that many of Apple's recently announced products hit the market without delays, but the really memorable products are the ones they introduce before availability. Either way, Apple faces a dilemma.

"There are a few products we introduce in advance of availability and they are very memorable," said Schiller. "We introduced the original iMac months before it was made available, but that's not because we weren't ready or had a problem, we decided to tell the world so they would know what was coming. We are so often beat up for the opposite, which is, 'will you please tell us what's happening' and when we do, we get beat up for doing that."

iPod division not leaving the Mac behind

When Apple made two divisions in the company this past May, one for the iPod and one for the Macintosh, many people felt that the Mac was taking a second seat to the success of the iPod. Marketing campaigns and much of what has come out of Apple has focused on the iPod, but Schiller says that is not the case.

"I know people thought that and I really hope that when they see this iMac that it shows that it's not the case," said Schiller. "We are applying our innovation and engineering design talents to everything we do, including the iPod and all of our Mac product lines."

Jupiter Research Senior Analyst Joe Wilcox says the new design shows how serious Apple is about its Macintosh computers.

"Many people have asked whether Apple would dump the Mac in favor of iPod," said Wilcox. "The new iPod positioning and even iPod-like look show how serious Apple is about selling computers, but wisely by associating the new iMac with the successful music player. Apple's hidden message is that if you buy an iPod you really need a cool Mac to go with it."

In fact, with the ties to the iPod and the penetration Apple has with the iPod in markets outside of the traditional Mac audiences, the iMac may be a first-time purchase for many people, according to analyst Tim Deal.

"Naturally, I think Apple's loyal customer base will love them," said Deal. In addition, Apple has a real opportunity to position this as a first-time Mac-owner product to the uninitiated. The iPod has given many PC owners their first taste of Apple's technology; the new iMac may very well be their second. I think this new design will change the way many people think about personal computers. It is the embodiment of simplicity."

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