January 16, 2021 3:28:17 pm
Apple Inc is planning the first redesign of its iMac all-in-one desktop computer since 2012, part of a shift away from Intel Corp processors to its own silicon, according to people familiar with the plans.
The new models will slim down the thick black borders around the screen and do away with the sizable metal chin area in favor of a design similar to Apple’s Pro Display XDR monitor. These iMacs will have a flat back, moving away from the curved rear of the current iMac. Apple is planning to launch two versions — codenamed J456 and J457 — to replace the existing 21.5-inch and 27-inch models later this year, the people said, asking not to be identified because the products are not yet announced.
The upcoming products are part of Apple’s radical overhaul of its personal computer lineup. The Cupertino, California-based company is switching from Intel chips that have powered generations of MacBooks and iMacs to its own, Arm-based processors, which it has branded Apple Silicon. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
The new models will use next-generation versions of Apple’s Mac processors like the upcoming 2021 MacBook Pros. The iMac redesign will be one of the biggest visual updates to any Apple product this year, according to people familiar with the company’s roadmap.
While much of the computer industry focuses on laptops, the iMac remains a key part of Apple’s portfolio. The first iMac, launched in 1998, has been credited with helping Apple escape bankruptcy and steer a path to eventually becoming the world’s most valuable company. The all-in-one desktop line is also key for professionals and consumers seeking large screens at relatively affordable prices.
Apple is also working on a pair of new Mac Pro desktop computers, its priciest Mac machines that don’t come with a screen included, the people said. One version is a direct update to the current Mac Pro and will continue to use the same design as the version launched in 2019. Apple has discussed continuing to use Intel processors for that model rather than moving to its own chips.
The second version, however, will use Apple’s own processors and be less than half the size of the current Mac Pro. The design will feature a mostly aluminum exterior and could invoke nostalgia for the Power Mac G4 Cube, a short-lived smaller version of the Power Mac, an earlier iteration of the Mac Pro.
As part of its revived Mac desktop efforts, Apple has started early development of a lower-priced external monitor to sell alongside the Pro Display XDR. Apple’s current monitor debuted in 2019 and costs $5,000 — before factoring in the $1,000 stand.
The cheaper monitor would feature a screen geared more for consumer than professional use and wouldn’t have the brightness and contrast ratio of the top-tier offering. Apple last launched a consumer-grade monitor called the Thunderbolt Display in 2011 for $999 but discontinued it in 2016.
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