Meet the ‘father’ of Mac Mini, launched 20 years ago

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The Power Mac G4 Cube was an Apple computer that promised a lot, but it ended up being a market failure. Launched in July 2000, the ‘father’ of the Mac Mini arrived on the market with innovative and compact design, as well as intermediate hardware for the time. But, due to the curious format, usability limitations and high price, the mini PC was discontinued by Apple in 2001, with the manufacturer selling only a third of the expected volume. In 2018, the current CEO of the apple, Tim Cook, called the Cube a “spectacular commercial failure”.

The Cube’s main appeal was design. In a world where computers were towers with light tones and without much concern for aesthetics, the Cube appeared as something different. Enclosed in a specific polycarbonate dome created by Apple, the computer had a touch of work of art for the time.

In addition to the innovative design, the mini PC had interesting features, such as the presence of sensors mounted on the case that replaced the power button, making it possible to turn the device on or off with gestures. Despite this, a frequent complaint from users pointed to an important problem: basically any gesture was recognized by the machine.

The flashy design, however, was not enough to attract the public. The main problem was in prices: the entry models of the G4 Cube cost US $ 1,799, about US $ 2,693 with corrections, which is equivalent to R $ 13,915 in the current quote. With $ 200 less, the user could buy the cheaper version of the G4 Tower model, of conventional design and with basically the same specifications, in addition to allowing upgrades more easily.

Analyzes of the time indicate that, although Apple imagined the Cube as an intermediate product, standing between the entry-level iMac and the top-of-the-line Power Mac, equivalent to today’s Mac Pro. As the hardware was more limited in this version, sales ended up being a fiasco, and the product was stranded on the shelves without a defined target audience and with low cost benefit.

The look was another point that, although aesthetically pleasing, was difficult to maintain. The design charm was in the closed cabinet with Apple’s expensive and complex polycarbonate blades. Ultimately, this aspect did not survive use, as the material’s wear and tear ended the impact caused by the apple’s material. Another problem with this piece was the quality of the plastic, which came to appear broken from the factory in the versions for the end user.

The innovative design also ran into usability. There are reports and reviews of the time that describe embarrassing situations, such as the computer turning itself off due to overheating caused by a simple sheet of paper left on the machine’s surface.


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