Having a problem with your iMac? OK, what colour is it?

Apple did a number of things right with the original iMac, which has now been permanently shelved. Weirdly, some of these things it continues to do right with, of all things, iTunes.

There's a new eMac out, and it now means that nobody, not even educational users, can buy an original-style fruit-coloured iMac. The Register reports on the lasting impact of the original iMac; I've got some things to say about this as well.

One of the great things about the iMac was that it got rid of nonsense about model numbers and so forth. Dell offers a number of desktops, and they're all called product name four-digit number. At some point you may have to remember this meaningless number, because some techie is going to ask you when your machine breaks down or wants something new, and you're not going to know. Of course you're not going to remember that. Why should you?

What Apple did with the iMac, which was brilliant, was make the colour of the machine mean something. Just by saying that your machine was Bondi Blue, fruit colour, Ruby, Dalmatian or Snow, you were saying all you needed to say, and if the techie was in any doubt about what type of machine you had, he'd just ask you stuff like whether there was a DVD drive or something.

Now, Apple used to do stuff like this before - the bronze keyboard Powerbook, for instance - and still does - my current machine is a Mirrored Drive Doors G4, for instance. But they excelled themselves with the iMac.

Intriguingly, they're still at it with, of all things, iTunes. Every time you download a new version, its icon changes colour. I believe this is deliberate, so if you have a problem with iTunes, the first thing they ask you is what colour is the icon. Saves trying to get you go to the iTunes menu, then About, and read a version number.

Talking of iTunes: I won't comment on the DRM or Apple iTunes Store, because I live in the UK and can't buy their stuff. But I will say that they've made a vast, significant improvement over Amazon, in the way they handle music samples.

I don't tend to listen to song samples when I go to Amazon, for two reasons. First of all, it has to launch Real Player, which takes time. Secondly, it leaves all sorts of identically-named small files cluttering up my desktop like so many rabbit pellets - small, vaguely functional I suppose, but I don't want to know.

iTunes doesn't do this. I click on a song, and it plays it.