I have a feeling that this article won’t go down very well.
By that, I don’t mean ‘Apple needs to cancel the Apple TV’ levels of fury – I’m simply referring to the fact that a great many people will not want to read the words I’m about to write.
But, I’m sorry. I think it’s true.
I think Apple has killed off the big iMac.
Goodbye, 27-inch iMac
On Tuesday, news emerged that Apple had discontinued the 27-inch iMac. And that does appear to be the case; it isn’t on the website anymore; you can no longer buy a brand-new 27” iMac.
This kind of activity on Apple’s website doesn’t always ring alarm bells – indeed it often rings bells that are far more positive in nature.
They’ve take stuff down! A new version must be on the way!
Er, no. Apple has almost certainly removed that big daddy iMac from its website because that is no longer a product line in which Tim and co. have any interest.
No sign of a successor
I didn’t think we’d see the next big iMac during Apple’s March event. But I did think we’d be treated to it later this year.
However, the ‘Peak performance’ event took most of us by surprise, didn’t it? iPhone SE and boring update to the iPad Air aside, this was an entirely pro-focused affair.
Apple presented us with a barnstorming finale for the M1 platform with the M1 Ultra, and a brand-new Mac platform that included a big 27-inch display.
Only, it wasn’t the big-screen Mac platform that so many people were hoping for. That’s right – the larger version of the 24-inch M1 iMac was nowhere to be seen.
With hindsight, rumours for the 27-inch iMac’s replacement have never been that strong or voluminous. There were mutterings about it having a 32-inch screen and suggestions that it would revive the iMac Pro brand. But no one seemed to be that sure. And, thanks once again to hindsight, it’s clear that when Apple canned the Intel-based iMac Pro a year ago, that was simply the beginning of the end for the entire big iMac product line.
What Apple ACTUALLY wants you to buy
I think the Mac Studio is a wonderful computer for a very specific audience. Indeed, I spoke to a video production company yesterday who expressed their delight for Apple “thinking of us”.
But that’s a vastly small market in Apple World.
Similarly, I’ve ordered a Studio Display, but I count myself among a minority of users who have a desire (note – not a ‘need’) for such a monitor.
Despite this, Apple’s message is clear. If you were waiting for that big iMac, you’ll need to buy a Studio Display to satisfy your thirst for screen estate, and add a separate computer to it.
There’s just one problem.
The gaping hole
Between the M1 Mac mini and Mac Studio, there is a gaping, cavernous hole in which sits a bunch of very pissed off Mac fans. Some of them wanted a big iMac, while the rest yearned for a beefed-up Mac mini. There was nothing for either set of users during Tuesday’s event.
Getting over the death of a platform like the big iMac will be tricky for some, but Apple needs to offer a sensible alternative. A Mac Studio and Studio Display isn’t that. Nor is the combination of a MacBook Pro and that Studio Display.
They’re all ridiculously silly, price-wise, when you consider that a theoretical big iMac powered by a tasty version of the M1 (or M2) could have cost around $2,000.
Therein lies the problem; the gaping hole contains an issue that is two-fold; it isn’t just the computer bit that’s missing a tier – the display is an issue, too.
At $1,599, it is a damn expensive monitor. Knock $600 off that, and you’re closer to a top-end consumer display for which many buyers would reach. Although, Apple can’t do this, because they set the bar for displays impossibly high when they launched the Pro Display XDR.
Even if they did present a consumer price point for the Studio Display, we would still have the issue of adding the computing power to it, wouldn’t we?
It’s a bit of a mess, Tim.
What will Apple do next?
The comments section for my event reaction video is full of people who are either delighted by what Apple announced with the Mac Studio and Studio Display, or those who are completely cheesed off.
I feel for the latter. It’s not fair. On the face of it, and without having sight of Apple’s wider strategy or the presence of investors breathing down our necks, there seems no reason not to just ‘make the 24-inch iMac bigger’.
But Apple isn’t going to do that. I’m convinced.
Before the year is out, we’ll see that new MacBook Air, the Mac Pro, and possibly an updated Mac mini with an M2 chip. The latter might satisfy some, but the big iMac crew are, I’m afraid, going to have to radically re-think their Mac strategy.