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Commentary: Fashion over function is costly

The discontinuation of Apple Computer's G4 Cube won't significantly hurt the company, but it certainly won't help, either.

By Mark Margevicius, Gartner Analyst

The discontinuation of Apple Computer's G4 Cube won't significantly hurt the company, but it certainly won't help, either.

Apple must now deal with a glut of

See news story:
Apple discontinues Cube
inventory after producing many more Cube units than it could sell, and the company's image is tarnished.

In Gartner's opinion, several forces contributed to the Cube's demise.

• The product was targeted and priced toward high-end consumers, of which there are relatively few.

• Several perceived flaws, including blemishes some users thought were cracks in the Cube's clear plastic case and a futuristic power switch that proved problematic, offset the innovative design.

• Many consumers who could afford to pay the high price for a Cube often did not see enough value in the system.

• Companies that standardized on Apple as a vendor did purchase Cubes, but most companies that purchased systems in the Cube's price range did not standardize on Apple.

Without question, the Cube was very well received for its design. The idea of a computer in cube form is innovative. While little immediate damage to Apple will likely result, the company's traditionally strong brand image may suffer from aftershocks.

Apple's success depends on its ability to be perceived as innovative and thus give its customer base a good reason to upgrade.

Apple and its customers have no reason to panic, however. The vendor remains strong in the consumer, prepress publishing, education and graphics markets. Gartner recommends that customers not change their purchasing plans based solely on this product stumble.

(For related commentary on Apple's latest operating system, OS X, see registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright © 2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.