New Mac Attack
Seeing an "at-home computer" market rather than a "home computer" market, Apple Computer unveiled in October a new line of lower-priced Macintosh computers, but it didn't announce the long-rumored $1,600 color Mac.
Three new Macintosh models were introduced. The Mac Classic has the familiar upright look and built-in monochrome monitor of the SE and Plus models. The Classic comes with 2 megabytes of RAM, a 40-megabyte hard disk, and a keyboard; it carries a suggested retail price of about $1,500. A single-floppy disk configuration is available for around $1,000.
The Macintosh LC (for Low-cost Color) is modular, with a separate monitor and CPU. The CPU unit itself is the sleekest of all Macs, with a small footprint and thin case. Aimed at the business, education, and at-home markets, the LC with 2 megabytes of RAM, a 40-megabyte hard disk, a 12-inch RGB color monitor, and a keyboard should have a suggested retail price of about $3,000.
The upper tier of the market was addressed by the Macintosh IIsi, another modular Mac. Configured with 2 megabytes of RAM, a 40-megabyte hard disk, a 13-inch high-resolution color monitor, and a keyboard, the Mac IIsi (for Simply Irresistible) was expected to carry a suggested retail price of around $4,600.
Both the Mac Classic and Mac IIsi were to be available on the October 15 announcement date. The LC was, at press time, to be announced in October, but it may not be available until early 1991.
The decision to equip all configurations of the new Macs with at least two megabytes of RAM means that the computers are ready for System 7.0, the latest and much-delayed update of the Macintosh operating system software. System 7.0 is expected to be released early in 1991.
Both the LC and IIsi come with a microphone, allowing for sound input as well as output. For the education market, an Apple IIe emulation board for the LC was announced, but it wasn't expected to be ready before the spring of 1991; the board should retail for under $200.
While the new Macintoshes don't directly address the home consumer, at least not with color, as had been widely expected, the machines do represent a substantial shift in Apple's pricing strategy. The LC fills a gap in the modular Macintosh line, providing for the first time a relatively low-cost color-Macintosh capability. Street prices for the new machines should be substantially lower than suggested retail pricing.
Apple representatives declined to comment on the recent reinvigoration of the home computer by IBM, Tandy, and others. Computers in the home, according to company spokespersons, are extensions of those in the office or the classroom rather than being true home information appliances. In other words, if you're not using a computer for work or school, you may not have much need for one at home.
Apple representatives also noted that the company's Apple II and IIGS lines would continue to be supported.