The Power Macintosh 9600/350, featuring the 350-MHz 604e Power PC processor, will be dropped from dealer price lists in October, according to Apple. This system was just introduced this August at Macworld Boston. The 9600s are Apple's systems targeted for use in content creation and scientific applications.
The main problem is that IBM, which makes the 350-MHz 604e, can't supply the company with enough chips to satisfy demand, according to a spokesperson for Apple. Apple will continue to build the systems to fill orders that have already been placed as parts become available. IBM could not be reached for comment by press time.
Apple says that the 9600/350 could be placed back on dealer price lists when enough processors become available.
The systems use the PowerPC 604e, which is generally regarded as the most powerful PowerPC processor, although the recently introduced PowerPC 750 processors used in Motorola's Starmax 6000 systems appeared to give the veteran 604e a run for its money. Those systems won't ship, however, because Motorola is exiting the Mac clone business. (See related story)
Some Apple resellers are afraid the move could signal a return to the days of "old Apple," when systems were released when Apple was ready to--and no sooner. While the clone vendors may have taken away hardware sales from Apple, they also forced the company to be more competitive, one Mac reseller told CNET's NEWS.COM on condition of anonymity.
However, the reseller qualified this statement, saying that often when new systems were announced, there was not enough product available to satisfy customer demand.
At the peak of the Mac clone business, Apple implemented a policy of building a 30-day supply of systems before announcing product availability in order to make sure demand for systems could be satisfied, according to industry observers.
The conundrum Apple then faced was that by waiting until it had inventory, it appeared to be behind companies like Power Computing in technological leadership because Power Computing could announce the newest, fastest systems without worrying about supplying them in a timely manner.
"Forecasting has never been Apple's forte," says Kevin Hause, an analyst with International Data Corporation.
"[Apple] has never been in a rush to bring out new systems because in many cases they couldn't get it out in volumes people would expect, so rather than create issue of demand they can't meet, they would just wait a couple of months, whereas Power would announce as soon as a few were available. Resellers don't take well to that because customers don't buy the slower systems that are available," Hause says.