iMac raves highlight growing Mac-PC design divide


Apple's Luxo Jr. iMac continues to draw rave reviews. In fact, it seems that hardware mavens of every stripe are queuing up to ritually prostrate themselves before the latest desktop heartthrob molded by the eminently capable hands of design guru Jonathan Ive.

"PCs that run the Windows operating system may be more commonplace, but when it comes to aesthetics and sheer class, the Apple Macintosh is the winner," enthused CBS News technology editor, Larry Magin, in a review.

"That was true back in 1984 when Apple first released the Mac, it was reiterated in 1998 when the company came out with the iMac, and it's truer than ever now that we have the new flat-screen iMac," Magin continued.

Preach on brother

However, CBS' tech editor is far from the only reviewer to don editorial kneepads in enumerating the new iMac's merits. Chris Cobbs of the Orlando Sentinel said, "Apple's iMac is the most talked-about computer of the year for a good reason -- it shows how bad PC design has been."

Truer words have not been spoken and perhaps no better elucidation of the design woes of the PC competition is Gateway's recent move to emulate Apple's PowerMac G4 towers. This design and form factor -- cosmetic changes aside -- dates back to the B&W G3. Apple's pro desktop line is likely next in line for a redesign and the competition is just getting around to copying it.

Nice pins lady

Although Magin, Cobbs and a host of others heap praise on Apple's bevy of iApps for their elegance and power, I'd like to argue they're missing the point by largely ignoring the underpinnings.

Although OS X exhibits many traits of a beta -- i.e. a lack of proper font support -- its stability, ineffable style and over-arching simplicity make it hands down the best OS available. Apple's iApps rock because the operating system, whether Classic or X, is just so there. The difference between the old and new is X offers protected memory and multitasking (For all its faults, Classic is a worthy still [though geriatric] competitor that I'd like to see handed over to the open source people in two or three years time).

The best offering of the competition is neatly summarized in the title of a review by Fortune magazine's Stewart Alsop, XP means extra pain. In a scathing dressing down of Redmond's latest folly, Alsop writes "I'm beginning to think that Microsoft looks like a company too wedded to past practices to keep up."

Mr. Alsop and a coterie of other PC notables, including David Coursey, are dabbling seriously with the Mac. This bodes well not only for these gentlemen's long-term sanity, but the platform as well.

Tallying the beans

The final analysis, although the last review won't likely be written for months, has to be that the new iMac offers unmatched top-to-bottom value. From the OS and bundled apps to the power and style of hardware, Apple and its latest sensation have reviewers lining up to genuflect, and rightly so.