Well, as of October 12, we have a new iPod, a new iMac G5 and new
features from the iTunes Music Store. Of the iPod, I’ll leave that to the
rest of the Mac Web — there’s little there that interests me as an
The iMac G5 however, is a computer that more companies should take a look
at as a desktop machine. It’s not the cheapest model around, but it’s a
solid value, perhaps the best value in Apple’s lineup. The Mini is a
cheaper machine, but if you need something with a fast CPU and good
graphics support, the iMac G5 is the better choice.
Outside of that, there are a few things to recommend the iMac G5.
For one, it’s a ”consumer” machine with Gigabit Ethernet support. This
isn’t new to the October model. It’s been an iMac G5 feature since May of
2005. Gig-E support, while not a requirement for most corporate use, is
one of those features that means you don’t have to worry that your
desktops will lag your network anytime soon.
With the per-port costs of Gig-E, especially on unmanaged switches coming
down to the realm of even small businesses, the ability to increase your
network speeds by a factor of 10 with relative ease is a big
consideration. While most of us may not transfer huge files, the
day-to-day time savings seen by the increased penetration of Gig-E,
multiplied by however many machines you have, can add up.
For example, in my real job, my Macs and laptops are backed up by an
Exabyte 1U VXA-2 loader. The uncompressed data rate in that is listed as
21.6GB/hr, which is about 50Mbps. Since my network connection speeds are
anywhere between 6 to 100Mbps, (this is a 100Mb Ethernet network, with
some wireless), that means the tape speed is the limiting factor in my
backups. However, should I decide to upgrade to, say, LTO, at that point,
my network speeds, even the Ethernet speeds are now going to limit my
backup speeds, so that 93GB/hr capability of the drive will be wasted. A
100Mbs Ethernet network is barely faster than even VXA-3/VXA-320 drives,
which are brand new.
With a 100Mbps network, your backup window is not going to be able to be
improved to the extent the new hardware should, simply because the
network won’t let it be. If you move to a Disk-To-Disk-To-Tape system,
the network is even more of a limiting factor, since discontinuity
between backup media speeds and network speeds is even greater. That’s
just an obvious use.
If you spend a lot of time working off of servers, that extra bandwidth
is more than just a neat toy.
Apple putting that in the iMac G5 is not just a cool point, it’s a
feature that can help save time in a dozen ways every day.
The iSight being built into the iMac G5 is another feature I think is
leading a curve. Meetings, especially ones you have to travel to, are
expensive. While Apple, with Mac OS X 10.4, allowed for multi-point
video conferencing, it meant you had to buy the iSight. And if there’s a
way to lose a small, removable, expensive peripheral, users are
frighteningly inventive at accomplishing it.
For Workers on the Road
By bundling the iSight with the iMac G5, Apple has created a great video
conferencing solution. It doesn’t require extra hardware, it doesn’t
require expensive software. It just requires an iMac G5, a decent
Internet connection, and iChat on the Macs or a current version of AIM on
PCs. While it’s not a panacea for all offsite meetings, the ability to
quickly and easily set up a video conference in under five minutes has
the potential to reduce the number of offsite meetings, or allow for more
‘face-to-face’ interaction between remote sites.
And for traveling executives who may have a Powerbook with iSight, being
able to quickly set up a video conference with staff back at the office
— including file transfer over a securable link — is not something to
be sneezed at. If Apple were to include some kind of white boarding/file
markup software in a future version of iChat, along with easy logging
features, then you would have a slam dunk for corporate needs.
The support for Bluetooth 2.0 EDR, (not new — this was introduced in May
2005), allows for speeds of up to 3Mbps, over twice as fast as Bluetooth
1.0. As anyone who has tried to actively use Bluetooth 1.0 for anything
but small data transfers can tell you, Bluetooth 2.0 cannot come fast
More importantly, Apple includes the headset profile with the iMac G5’s
Bluetooth implementation. This allows for the use of wireless headsets
with things like iChat, making iChat’s audio features nicer to use.
(While finding the right Bluetooth headset can indeed be a chore, once
you use them with cell phones or iChat, their value is instantly obvious
What I see the new iMac G5 representing is potential delivered today.
It is a solution that while not expandable in the traditional slots ‘n’
card sense of the term, is quite flexible, and gives a company a platform
that is relatively inexpensive, and can easily survive a three-year
replacement cycle with little pain during that time. It is a platform
that can handle any task you can throw at it today, and most of the ones
you’ll be asking of it three years from now. (With grid computing on the
rise, and Apple’s xGrid implementation, along with new Linux xGrid
clients, having a building full of underutilized G5 processors will not
Networks are being used to carry more than ever before, both in terms of
quantity of data and types of data, and the iMac is a great example of
what a modern hardware implementation is capable of.