By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 6:38 am
To quote Steve Jobs, boom! Apple just did a sweeping update of its desktop Macs that involves lower prices, beefier components (especially graphics), and other improvements. And it also upgraded its wireless networking gear. All in all, it confirmed a ton of rumors that swirled through the blogosphere in recent weeks.
A very quick rundown of some of what’s new:
–The iMac line now includes an $1199 20-inch model and a flagship $1499 24-inch model with 4GB of RAM and 640GB of hard-disk space that begins at the same price as a more spartan 20-inch iMac previously did, both with the Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics that first showed up in last fall’s new MacBooks;
–rumors about a Mac Mini with five USB ports were boring but true–the new Mini has ‘em, along with Nvidia 9400M graphics and both DVI and Mini DisplayPort (it now has the ability to drive two monitors at once). And Apple says it’s the most energy-efficient desktop in the world;
–the high-end Mac Pro line now starts at $2499 ($300 less than before), sports Intel Nehalem Xeon CPUs and Nvidia GeForce GT 120 graphics (ATI Radeon HD 4870 is optional), includes both DVI and Mini DisplayPort video output, and features an “updated interior provides easy access to all components within the Mac Pro for hassle free expansion.”
Whew–that’s a lot of overhauling–all of it reflecting Apple’s classic strategy of improving the specs at a given price point and doing some price cuts without going anywhere near the lowest pricetags in the Windows world. (Folks who keep guessing the company will go cheap all of a sudden should remember this: In certain respects, Apple is a profoundly predictable company.) It’s not the least bit surprising that Apple simply rolled all this stuff into the Apple Store rather than holding a press event and attempting to create maximum hoopla. Putting even Phil Schiller onstage to discuss these new desktops wouldn’t have been worth the effort.
Which brings up a question: Does this mean there won’t be any more strikingly newsy new Apple products in the near future? And the answer, of course, is who knows? We’ll presumably see a new iPhone in the not-too-distant future, and there’s a good chance that it’ll be a more notable upgrade than any of these new desktops. Apple TV is probably due to be reinvented at least a little. And the fact that Apple has recently updated all of its desktops and laptops doesn’t mean that there’s not a chance that it’ll introduce an all-new computer of some sort soon. Not a garden-variety netbook, surely…but a non-netbook that can compete with netbooks is plausible enough.
One fact about Apple product rollouts: The fact that it does a bunch of them on one Tuesday doesn’t mean it’s not saving more introductions for just a few Tuesdays into the future.
On the other hand–and here’s a bit of profound analysis–I think we can deduce that the rumors about an Apple event on March 24th to launch new desktop Macs were false.
Just for fun, I’ll end with a comparison of the backsides of the spy-shot Mac Mini that some folks rejected as an obvious Photoshopped fake and the Mini which Apple did, indeed, release today…