Apple in G4 chip back flip?

PC maker poised to reverse its controversial decision to downgrade G4 processors, but not G4 prices.

Apple may back off from its previously announced plan to substitute slower processors in G4 Power Macs without offering customers a corresponding price break. Word of the reversal is expected within a day.

The chip switch has been roundly criticized by Apple customers and retailers in the 24 hours since it was announced, and the complaints apparently reached Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Although Apple has not yet commented on a change in plans, several G4 customers told MacWEEK that Apple sales representatives said they could expect a public announcement in the very near future.

Customer feedback
Jon-Paul Kelly, a video editor and graphic designer in San Francisco, said an Apple Store sales representative told him Thursday that Apple will, in fact, honor all advance orders for 400MHz and 450MHz G4 computers at the prices originally agreed to. "She said they're just waiting on the final word," Kelly said. "They're going to issue a statement later today and give us all a break."

Kelly said he ordered a 500MHz G4 on Aug. 31, the same day the new G4 line was introduced by Apple iCEO Steve Jobs. When he learned Wednesday that Apple was scaling back the processor speed on its G4 systems, Kelly said he called Apple's online store and eventually agreed to buy a 450MHz machine at the 500MHz price. But when he called Apple on Thursday to confirm his order, Kelly said, his sales representative said he would get the 450MHz G4 at a cheaper price -- $2,499 instead of $3,499.

"I'm very happy," Kelly said.

Another MacWEEK reader and G4 buyer, who asked to remain anonymous, said in an e-mail message Thursday that he was told by an Apple representative that "an explanation from Apple was forthcoming."

Future G4 buyers will still have to pay higher prices, however, and a shortage of 500MHz chips will delay delivery of the top-of-the-line systems until early next year.

Orders adding up
Meanwhile, retailers polled Thursday by MacWEEK said G4 computers are in short supply and sales representatives are fielding phone calls from customers confused by Apple's announcement Wednesday about the drop in processor speed.

Thomas Armes, president of Elite Computers & Software in Cupertino, Calif., said his store had orders for more than 50 of the 500MHz G4 systems when Apple announced the chip holdup.

"Our plan is basically to mirror Apple (strategy) and simply offer the product as it becomes available," Armes said. Although the store sold all of its 450MHz G4 machines last week, Elite continues to have "a good supply" of 400MHz G4 models, he said, and they were available at the original price.

A salesman at the CompUSA store in Edison, N.J., said there were no G4 computers in stock there, while a salesman at CompUSA's Birmingham, Ala., location said only the 400MHz G4 model is in stock there, priced at $1,600.

Meanwhile, a salesman at Computer Town, a Salem, N.H.-based retail chain with six stores, said there are no G4 models in stock and that any 400MHz models that arrive would go to customers who placed advance orders.

Computer Town has received "a lot" of calls from customers who had pre-ordered the 500MHz model and were confused by changes announced by Apple, the salesman said.

Apple may back off from its previously announced plan to substitute slower processors in G4 Power Macs without offering customers a corresponding price break. Word of the reversal is expected within a day.

The chip switch has been roundly criticized by Apple customers and retailers in the 24 hours since it was announced, and the complaints apparently reached Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Although Apple has not yet commented on a change in plans, several G4 customers told MacWEEK that Apple sales representatives said they could expect a public announcement in the very near future.

Customer feedback
Jon-Paul Kelly, a video editor and graphic designer in San Francisco, said an Apple Store sales representative told him Thursday that Apple will, in fact, honor all advance orders for 400MHz and 450MHz G4 computers at the prices originally agreed to. "She said they're just waiting on the final word," Kelly said. "They're going to issue a statement later today and give us all a break."

Kelly said he ordered a 500MHz G4 on Aug. 31, the same day the new G4 line was introduced by Apple iCEO Steve Jobs. When he learned Wednesday that Apple was scaling back the processor speed on its G4 systems, Kelly said he called Apple's online store and eventually agreed to buy a 450MHz machine at the 500MHz price. But when he called Apple on Thursday to confirm his order, Kelly said, his sales representative said he would get the 450MHz G4 at a cheaper price -- $2,499 instead of $3,499.

"I'm very happy," Kelly said.

Another MacWEEK reader and G4 buyer, who asked to remain anonymous, said in an e-mail message Thursday that he was told by an Apple representative that "an explanation from Apple was forthcoming."

Future G4 buyers will still have to pay higher prices, however, and a shortage of 500MHz chips will delay delivery of the top-of-the-line systems until early next year.

Orders adding up
Meanwhile, retailers polled Thursday by MacWEEK said G4 computers are in short supply and sales representatives are fielding phone calls from customers confused by Apple's announcement Wednesday about the drop in processor speed.

Thomas Armes, president of Elite Computers & Software in Cupertino, Calif., said his store had orders for more than 50 of the 500MHz G4 systems when Apple announced the chip holdup.

"Our plan is basically to mirror Apple (strategy) and simply offer the product as it becomes available," Armes said. Although the store sold all of its 450MHz G4 machines last week, Elite continues to have "a good supply" of 400MHz G4 models, he said, and they were available at the original price.

A salesman at the CompUSA store in Edison, N.J., said there were no G4 computers in stock there, while a salesman at CompUSA's Birmingham, Ala., location said only the 400MHz G4 model is in stock there, priced at $1,600.

Meanwhile, a salesman at Computer Town, a Salem, N.H.-based retail chain with six stores, said there are no G4 models in stock and that any 400MHz models that arrive would go to customers who placed advance orders.

Computer Town has received "a lot" of calls from customers who had pre-ordered the 500MHz model and were confused by changes announced by Apple, the salesman said.