Yesterday's story about the E-Machine and other iMac killers generated a bunch of email, so I figured the story was worth expanding. In the wake of Apple's iMac release in August, PC makers are readying PC-compatible systems that are designed to out-perform and out-price the iMac. These systems, which in many cases will offer similar designs to the iMac, will instead offer Pentium II-class 333 MHz Celeron processors running Windows 98. Many of these systems will be ready by Christmas.
E-Machines, in particular, will offer a sub-$600 system that borrows heavily from the iMac design. Aside from the obvious differences between a PC and a Mac, the E-Machines system will also offer a floppy drive, serial and parallel ports, and, unlike the iMac, be easily upgradeable. Also unlike the iMac, the E-Machines box will be compatible with all existing PC-compatible hardware.
For the very low-end, E-Machines will offer a Cyrix-based system that will sell for under $500. This system will feature 32 MB RAM, a 3.2 GB hard drive, a 56KBps modem, and an integrated 14" monitor.
Yesterday's story stated that Intel and Korean PC manufacturer TriGem were collaborating on the system, which is false: Actually, TriGem is working with Korean Data Systems to create E-Machine. Intel, of course, does supply the Celeron CPU in the higher-end E-Machine system, but it is working on a separate future PC design that resembles a terraced pyramid. PCs based on this design are still at least a year away and will likely be fairly radical in their design.
The upcoming Intel PC, and the E-Machines boxes, fill a gap at the low-end that isn't addressed by iMac: a survey of iMac buyers shows that only 16% of the purchasers were first-time computer buyers, and over 82% of the buyers were existing Macintosh owners. An E-Machines computer--coming in at less than half the price of an iMac--is expected to be particularly appealing to a far larger group of consumers: First time PC buyers and existing PC users that want a second machine. What's amazing about these machines, however, is that even the $500 model is powerful enough to run today's demanding business applications while underpricing any Network Computer