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Apple's Mac Cube: the iMac's replacement?

Maybe, but we still say appliance

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More details are emerging about Apple's 'Cube' Mac, courtesy of "sources with insight" who've been talking to AppleInsider.

Between them, said sources are claiming the cube will fall within a $999-1499 price range, depending on spec. They also say that the machine will have no internal expansion options - for add-in cards at least; previous reports suggested an internal FireWire/IEEE 1394 port - but will ship with Apple's next-generation keyboard and mouse.

Interestingly, a number of AppleInsider's sources suggest the machine might be an iMac replacement. The Cube is also described as a way of diverting attention away from the PowerPC's increasing performance lag - at least for general purpose computing - behind the Wintel world, and to compete with new consumer-oriented x86 PCs.

We're less sure. The Cube's compact, stackable enclosure still suggests to us some kind of information appliance - if not Apple's answer to the home-oriented Net access set-top box, then a small server appliance along the lines of Cobalt's server products. Certainly, the Cube's lack of useful I/O ports (including a monitor port), at least according to earlier reports, points to some kind of TV-connected device or something that's accessed remotely by LAN or Web. It's not hard to imagine a device running MacOS X Server that provides LAN-connected Macs with single-point Net access.

Still, Apple does need to revitalise the iMac line - now nearly two years old - and the Cube could be the machine to do it. We're just unsure about any plan that would replace a box with an integrated monitor - ie. Mac-style - with a traditional - ie. PC-style - CPU and separate display set-up.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is due to give his MacWorld Expo keynote on Wednesday, so we should find out soon enough.

Meanwhile, AppleInsider notes the continued interference from Apple's legal department, which is apparently claiming the site "illegally obtained and published the some of the company's forthcoming announcements". We're not sure whether this refers to the Cube - more likely (since the Cube stories haven't been pulled) it's because of coverage of Mystic, Apple's multi-processor Mac. ®

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Related Link

AppleInsider's Cube story

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