Apple reverses direction on G4 downgrades again

Policy definitely sorted this time... maybe...

Apple seems to have a real problem making up it's mind, these days. First it announces that anyone who has already ordered a Power Mac G4 but has yet to receive it will now have to take a machine with a slower CPU for the same price by re-placing their order. Apple's move was announced along with the company's Q4 1999 results. The company said that because of problems with the supply of 500MHz PowerPC 7400 (aka G4) CPUs (a tacit acknowledgement of the bug that prevents the G4 from running at 500MHz or more), it was downgrading its entire G4 line by 50MHz -- so what started out with 400, 450 and 500MHz machines now comprises 350, 400 and 450MHz models. In response to the massive outcry from understandably disgruntled customers, Apple admitted its gaffe and its direct sales force yesterday began emailing buyers that orders for 400MHz and 450MHz machines will be honoured, and that orders for the 500MHz version will be converted either to a 450MHz machine for $350 less, or a 450MHz for the same price but with an extra 128MB of memory. Now, less than 24 hours later, the Mac maker has changed its mind again and stated that all deals are now off, and buyers will have to re-order new, slower machines after all. An Apple spokesman told Web site MacWeek: "We are honouring [advance] orders from just a small number of individuals." He said that the email from the AppleStore had been a mistake since the production process made it impossible to fulfil all but a few now non-standard configurations. So much for Apple's build-to-order system, the whole point of which is to produce non-standard configurations. If it can't delay orders for old-configuration models and re-route them through the BTO channel, it's a very poor do. Meanwhile, US dealers contacted by MacWeek said they too were now being forced to contact customers to tell them their existing orders can no longer be fulfilled. Said the Apple spokesman: "We are apologising for the inconvenience this has caused our valuable customers. Fortunately, most of our customers understand the need to do this to meet demand, and almost all of the customers we have heard from are reordering." For Apple's sake, we hope so, and that it can quickly put this colossal balls-up behind it. ®

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