Apple has Decided all iMacs are Pro-Devices

2 minute read
| Editorial

Typical. As soon as I bought my new Mac mini, Apple (finally) updated the iMacs. So predictable. So frustrating.

2019 iMac
2019 iMac. Image credit: Apple

My immediate reaction following this week’s announcement was a) to swear and, b) decide that I’d simply return what I had bought and swap it in for a new iMac. But then then I started comparing the cost and capabilities of the two devices. Suddenly I did not feel so inclined to rush back to the Apple Store.

The iMac is Freaking Powerful – at a Cost

Let’s be clear. The updated iMac is, to coin Apple’s phrase, “freaking powerful.” There is no denying that. But you arguably have to spend quite a bit of money to really get hold of that power.

The fairest comparison to my device is the new $1,299 iMac – it’s around the same budget I spent on the Mac Mini. That device has an Intel Core i3 processor. That is only a year old, but my Mac mini has an i5 processor. Furthermore, the iMac is quad-core, while the Mac-Mini is 6-Core. Even the $1,499 iMac comes with an 8th-gen i5 chip as standard. That is also with a 21.5 inch monitor. I have a 27.5 inch monitor.

The biggest win for the iMac is in terms of hard drive capacity. It has a 1Tb hard drive. However, it is a Fusion Drive. Although significantly smaller (256 GB), the Mac Mini comes with an SSD. With Dropbox and/or external drives, it becomes a non issue.

Spend to Win

To significantly, noticeably, beat what the Mac Mini has to offer you need to spend significantly, noticeable, more. I priced one up on the Apple website, with a 27-inch 5k display, an i9 chip, 8-cores and some of the other trimmings. It was pushing around £2,700.

Not everyone needs that kind of power, I appreciate that. But even slightly further down the line the first 27-inch iMac with a SSD costs $1,899, and that’s with an i5-chip. If you want a device with the new i9 chip and a SSD you’re easily clearing $2,500. And there are more upgrades you can easily add to that to customize a device that is significantly better than the Mac mini.

To my mind then, Apple has made a decision with these latest upgrades. The iMac is now a pro-device. It has made them hugely powerful, but consequently pushed them into a price range where it is just not compelling for a most users. If you are, say, a filmmaker, photographer or musician, I get it. The investment in a new iMac would undoubtedly be money well spent. However, for most people, it is neither financially viable nor necessary.

Arguably this shift is a good thing. It provides more differentiation across Apple’s range. But let’s be clear about what has happened – iMacs of all kinds are for pros now.

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Paul Goodwin
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Paul Goodwin

My January 2002 iMac Flat Panel (800 MHz G4 soccer ball, highest price iMac) was $1799. That’s $2528 in today’s dollars.

My mid-2010 iMac 21.5”(bottom line 3.06 GHz 500 GB model) was $1199. That’s $1685 in today’s dollars.

Today’s pricing isn’t out of line with these. We’d just like the prices to be lower. Especially for me since I’m retired and making less.

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ToneWilliamsUSA

It’s getting harder over time to pay any attention to Apple. I get it could just be me, for my expectations run high for the once great innovator. Positioning a product as a pro offering means nothing if it does not deliver and, once again, Apple fails. The value proposition just is not there for the feature set. I expect excellence when paying top dollar for a product. And, I’m willing to pay for excellence. What that means for me relative to an expensive personal computer is that it can be readily repaired, upgraded, and expanded. That’s why I continue… Read more »

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op_nihilist

So what your telling me is, I can spend 3 times the price of a discount Windows gaming PC that is Twice as fast for a mediocre upgrade to the processor and a proprietary OS….. It’s a good thing brand loyalty is a thing or Apple would have crumbled years ago…

archimedes
Member
archimedes

I’d go one step further: it remains to be seen whether Apple Arcade will have any success in the gaming market beyond iOS, but I don’t see them competing with “discount Windows gaming PCs” any time soon. (Or the PS4/Xbox/Switch for that matter.)

On the other hand, “discount Windows gaming PCs” are useless to people who care about seamless hardware/software/media integration across an entire line of devices including watches, phones, tablets, streaming devices, laptops, and desktops.

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ToneWilliamsUSA

Clearly, Apple has lost its mojo under Tim Cook. Steve Jobs understood that excellence sells itself. Under his direction, Apple gave its customers the best user experience possible for a modest premium. Now Apple simply wants to enrich its shareholders. Ironically, Jobs knew that shareholders would naturally be rewarded when Apple’s products exceeded customer expectations. Apple never exceeds my expectations any longer. Not even close.

iGrouch
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iGrouch

For many years now (since around 2010) Apple has been a platform for the upper middle classes, with a range of products that aren’t really that robust or practical for many who need to do serious work but have small budgets: artists, crafts people, artisans. You know, those people that think different and are creative. Apple has always operated in the rarefied echelons of the exclusivity of premium products to set them apart. But, there was a time when, if you were dedicated, you could push to €2,500 and get a Mac Pro which, you could then service and upgrade… Read more »

archimedes
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archimedes

You could argue that the Mac mini is more of a “pro” machine because of the T2 chip and flash storage. You won’t get stuck with a 5400 RPM hard drive in the mini.

The $1099 21″ iMac has compromises that make it unacceptable for most “pros” (notably the 1080p display and slow hard drive, both of which are decidedly mediocre in 2019.)

You may not like the pricing, but it’s not out of line with historical iMac pricing. I’m pretty sure Apple’s pricing wizards picked the prices that will make Apple the most money.

geoduck
Member
geoduck

I get the feeling they are trying to position the iPad as their low end desktop/laptop. A 12.9 in iPad Pro with 256GB of SSD storage is $1149. It doesn’t have an Intel processor but the A12X is an 8 core with, I believe, a 5 core GPU. It’s very impressive.