Apple Computer Inc. outraged customers this week by canceling all orders for its new line of G4 Macintoshes on Wednesday, then inviting would-be buyers to reorder their computers at higher prices. But last night, it seemed to change its mind.
In an e-mail sent Wednesday to customers who had signed up to purchase the new line, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company announced that it "has reconfigured the processor speeds in its Power Mac G4 line" and "we are unable to fulfill your outstanding G4 order as originally configured and priced."
Apple's online store offered them the new deal: a choice of paying more to get the same computer they had originally ordered, or paying the same as before for a slower machine.
The company said in a separate news release that the "reconfiguration" was a response to shortages in Motorola's 500-megahertz G4 processor chip, which is now scheduled for availability next year. Various Apple representatives either declined to comment or did not return repeated calls for comment yesterday afternoon.
Apple customer David Callahan of Eldersburg, Md., who placed his order for a new 450-MHz G4 within hours of the announcement of the new line, received the e-mail Wednesday afternoon. When he went back to Apple's online store, he found that his G4 computer, as configured, would now cost $800 more than when he placed the order. "The thing that's really galling is that they can make my computer, I just have to pay more," he said. "When's the last time you heard of Dell canceling a line of orders?" Callahan said he would not buy the G4 with the new price.
Yesterday evening, however, Callahan said he was told to "hang tight" and that the issue would be resolved by this morning. A Washington Post reporter who called the order line later that evening without identifying himself was told that the company had "revisited [its] position" and would honor existing orders.
Interim chief executive Steve Jobs had said the G4 would be available immediately when he introduced the line at the Seybold desktop-publishing conference at the end of August. These models, priced from $1,599 to $3,499, are the company's fastest desktop computers.