I think that the new G4 cubes fit the midrange gap for Apple quite nicely. The iMacs do very well in the SOHO market, but it's a big step up to a full G4, and from my experience, I'd say that probably 98 percent of the available Nubus, and PCI slots shipped to date in Apple machines have nothing in them. A lot of SCSI cards went out with the newer machines, but that will become less important as more firewire and USB devices come to market. Some very specific niche markets, really need the expansion capabilities, but very rarely does an office machine need a PCI slot when you've got everything important on the motherboard.
The cube fits a market for people that want power but don't need the expansion options of PCI, which describes most small offices and home users. The other nice thing is that it is an independent machine so that you aren't tied to the all-in-one monitor. I've got an iMac and I love it, but I'm looking for another machine and I don't want to have two iMacs, as they would take up too much space.
What I'd love to see is a KVM switch for the new ADC connector so that I could easily share, monitor and keyboard between several cubes and G4's. Even better would be an adaptor installed easily and let me attach a cube to my iMacs video so I could jus tuck it next to the iMac and switch back and forth.
I think that the G4 cube will do very well, and may in fact eat into the traditional G4 sales a little bit. It's a perfect tool for a server environment, and I wonder what it would be like with 10 of these tucked on a shelf running a Yellow Dog Linux Server Cluster set up or equivalent OS X server clustering tools.
The only thing that I wish they had done was to offer a really inexpensive 400MHz model. They could have lost the low-end single processor G4 and made that the differentiator -- single processor cubes and multi processor G4's. Given that the largest price component is the 500MHz they could be selling 400MHz cubes for $1,299 -- and boy would those sell fast!
Erik Ableson has been working with and around Macs since the Mac Plus including a brief childhood fling with an Apple II. Erik is an independent consultant based in Ottawa, Canada, focused on internetworking systems and database drive Web applications running on Linux, SunOS, NT, MacOS and MacOS X Server. Erik has also worked for the Government of Canada, Nortel Networks, Hughes Aircraft, and a variety of other companies in his 15 year career working with information technology.