Psst! Wanna Buy a Gray-Market eMac?


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With today's release of Apple's new eMac, is there going to be a substantial gray market for the new 17" CRT all-in-one?

The original education-only G3 All-In-One, fondly known as 'the molar', enjoys a substantial cult following, and many of these have been auctioned off by schools and have fallen into private Mac owners' hands.

Now, with the $999 eMac, there clearly be pent-up demand for a 17" G4 iMac that does most of what the LCD 15" iMac does, but at a lower price.

I lied to Apple.

I've signed an AppleStore form stating I was working at a Michigan high school. Sure enough, digitally accept the web document and then choose your eMac.

However, the prices for individual purchasers - who are entitled to only one purchase per annum - will surprise and perhaps disappoint you. Apple has deliberately priced non-institutional purchases of the eMac substantially higher than the going rate. And the base $999 model isn't even available to you.

What is? Apple Education offers a $1,249 eMac with a 700MHz G4. 128MB SDRAM, 40GB Ultra ATA drive, Combo drive (DVD/CD-RW) and 56K internal modem (plus ethernet and the usual iMac stuff). For a whopping $1,549, they'll bump up the RAM to 512MB, leave everything else as it is and thrown in an eMac stand.

Hardly compelling buying.

When you consider the base iMac/700 LCD retails for $1,399, that eMac - rarity value aside - begins to look like rather poor value, and the Power Mac G4/800 starts to look pretty good. Especially after a few beers. And it's not like 17" CRTs cost a king's ransom either.

What people really want is the $999 eMac, the Classic, the LC475 of 2002. Lots of power - low price. And you can't buy one. Not unless your school admin over-orders and flogs you one on the side to cover the hole in their budget.

The gloves are off.

Mac users now know - absolutely, positively - that Apple can build and market a Mac G4 and sell it at a profit. But they won't sell you one.

What they will sell you carries a 26.9% profit margin and a burning sensation in your pocket.

Yes, I'll bet money, real folding green stuff with a 100 on the front, that Mac users want the eMac. And I'll also bet pounds to peanuts that Apple will refuse to support/guarantee eMacs which find their way into private hands outside authorized AppleEd distribution channels.

Buyer beware. But do you want one? And how much folding would you be willing to lay down?