Apple explains Power Mac G4 mobo switch

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Apple's introduction last week of the Power Mac G5 has many Mac-using professionals looking forward to August, when the first of the new systems are expected to ship. Built around IBM's PowerPC 970 processor and featuring a much more robust architecture than previous Power Macs, the Power Mac G5 is expected to be much faster than any Mac available right now.

Not everyone can wait, however, so Apple has left available in its arsenal a single Power Mac G4 system clocked at 1.25MHz, replacing the 1.0GHz, 1.25GHz and 1.42GHz systems previously available. It can accommodate up to 2GB of RAM and comes equipped with an 80GB hard drive, CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo Drive and ATI Radeon 9000 Pro graphics card, with a SuperDrive or Nvidia GeForce4 Ti-based card as build-to-order options.

Priced to start at US$1,299 and available configured in single and dual-processor configurations, the Power Mac G4 is not the same 1.25GHz model that was available a few weeks ago. Gone is FireWire 800, for example, as is AirPort Extreme and built-in Bluetooth support. In fact, the specifications on today's Power Mac G4 look very similar to the systems that debuted last August.

Apple said the switch from the 1.25GHz system introduced this January was a deliberate effort to deliver a low-cost system to its professional customers and anyone else who might want to pick up an inexpensive, expandable Mac.

"It's part of our plan to hit the lowest possible price point for that configuration," said Apple vice president of hardware product marketing Greg Joswiak.

Joswiak noted that FireWire 800-equipped 1.0GHz, 1.25GHz and 1.42GHz Power Mac G4 models may still be available through reseller channels, but availability is bound to dry up quickly -- this scaled-back system is what Apple is manufacturing and selling now.

Reverting to the older motherboard architecture had another added benefit, according to Joswiak: Unlike those January systems, today's Power Mac G4 is dual-bootable in Mac OS X and Mac OS 9. The January systems worked in Mac OS X and Classic only.

"We're offering this as a 'bridge' machine," said Joswiak, who acknowledged that Apple continues to have many customers in the creative market who are only now transitioning to Mac OS X, now that key applications like QuarkXPress are available natively.

"It's an opportunity for customers to make the transition [to Mac OS X]," he added.

Apple's strategy with the Power Mac G4 going forward is consistent with what Apple did with its CRT-based iMac. The original G3 iMacs continued production for some time after the introduction of the flat-panel G4-equipped iMac in January of 2002, serving as a low-cost system for educational institutions and others looking for value over features.

"We don't have a definite [termination] date in mind, but it's not a short-term effort," said Joswiak. "As long as people keep buying the Power Mac G4, we'll keep selling them."

This story, "Apple explains Power Mac G4 mobo switch" was originally published by PCWorld.

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