For some time now, the Apple community has been expecting a refresh to the iMac line, but it appears to have been delayed. I think I know why.
The last update to the iMac line was April 28, 2008 when the line received a CPU and GPU upgrade. Then, late in 2008, rumors surfaced that Apple was getting ready to release an iMac with a quad core processor, likely the top of the line 24-inch product. It was on my list and many others for a Macworld 2009 announcement.
What caused the delay? It likely wasn't a feeling that new products shouldn't be released in this economic climate. After all, Apple always figures out how to offer more for the same price in that line, it's a popular line, (but not as popular as notebooks), and failing to create new products out of paralysis is not Apple's style.
So what happened?
MacBook Unibody sans FireWire 400 & 800
The MacBook FireWire debacle happened. Back on October 14, Apple released new aluminum MacBooks without FireWire 400 to howls of protest. Mountains of protest. While Apple sometimes moves the state-of-the-art forward by dropping old technologies, the consensus in the community was that Apple misjudged this one and screwed up.
That customer outcry put a hold on the iMac refresh, and that's why it wasn't announced at Macworld. Now, I think, Apple has had to go back and change the motherboard design and the connector array in the case to accommodate FireWire 400 for this consumer Mac, and that takes months.
If this theory is correct, it also suggests that Apple has paid a price for hedging and creating dubious technical agendas in a time of financial uncertainty. It was bad luck, judgment and timing.
During the last recession, Steve Jobs made a Big Deal about Apple innovating its way out of it. I hope that Apple's management sees it that way this time, and, in the future, puts aside ill-considered technical agendas with their product lines that only end up hurting the customers. We always want the best, most thoughtful products Apple has to offer, and 2009's recession is a good time for Apple to offer that to us in an inspiring way.
We want more CPU power, but we also want compatibility with our essential peripherals.