Why Apple May Have Delayed the New iMac

Apple iMac 2017

If traditional iMac shipment schedules held, Apple would have shipped a 2018 iMac with Coffee Lake CPUs. It hasn’t happened. Why not?

Apple iMac 2017
Latest Apple iMac is from 2017

My favorite working theory is that the MacBook Pros, then the Mac mini, then the MacBook Air were prioritized for integration with the T2 security chip. iMac was last on the list. Indeed, Coffee Lake MacBook Pros shipped in July 2018, and the Mac mini and MacBook Air shipped in October 2018. By the time Apple engineers turned their attention to the iMac, one of several things happened.

First, they decided to wait for the “Coffee Lake Refresh” from Intel. That’s an upgrade to the original Coffee Lake. But Apple always wants just the right chip in a new lineup. So that may explain the delay.

Or Apple had already committed to the follow-on CPU, Cannon Lake, and Intel continued to fumble Cannon Lake yet further, likely infuriating Apple. See: “Intel Cannon Lake release date, news, and rumors.

Finally, Apple may have planned all along to go with ARM in a major architecture shift, just as the company may be doing with the 2019 Mac Pro. Announcing these two companion Macs at WWDC 2019, along with a maturing Marzipan technology, would have developers in a tizzy. That would provide the Mac Pro for the corporate developers and tech professionals along with a more affordable iMac for smaller developers and, of course, consumers.

That’s my thinking behind the obscene delay of the next gen iMac. The fact that the latest available iMac is still a 2017 Kaby Lake model led our Charlotte Henry to opt for a Mac mini recently. “Choosing the Mac Mini Over the iMac.

Was that Apple’s plan all along? To force our hand and bolster Mac mini sales? I hope Apple doesn’t think like that these days.

More Debris

9to5Mac has some juicy details on what may be coming in iOS 12.2. Guilherme Rambo has been looking through he developer beta and filed this report: “iOS 12.2 under-the-hood: ECG changes, AppleCare status, more.

engadget writes about Samsung’s latest high capacity RAM for smartphones. “Samsung unveils the highest-capacity smartphone DRAM yet.” If you have a MacBook Air or MacBook with 8 GB RAM, this 12 GB part from Samsung has that beat. Oh my.

• At Bloomberg, Lucas Shaw, Mark Gurman, and Julie Verhage have the latest scoop on Apple’s March 25 event.Apple Courts HBO and Showtime for Service to Challenge Netflix.

The company will host A-list celebrities and media executives on March 25 to outline how it will take on competitors like Amazon.com Inc. and Netflix Inc. Apple plans to unveil a long-awaited streaming service and magazine subscription bundle…

But there are still some last minute deals to close.

But before the curtain goes up, Apple needs to complete deals. The company is racing to secure movies and TV shows to offer alongside its own original videos and is offering concessions to get deals done by a Friday deadline, according to people familiar with the matter. Pay-TV programmers such as HBO, Showtime and Starz have to decide whether Apple is an existential threat, as some now view Netflix, a potential partner or something in between.

These relationships are going to be fascinating to watch unfold.

ZDNet has some thoughts on how Apple should bundle all its new services. “Why Apple’s streaming video service should lead to ‘Apple Prime’ subscription bundle.” Indeed, how Apple prices and bundles its services will be the key to how well the TV streaming service competes against Amazon and Netflix.

• Finally, I’ve written before about the dangers of AI persuasive abilities. And here it is in print. “The Future Of Sales: What If The Best Salesperson Is A Robot?” How will untrained humans possibly resist? Mind boggled.


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro’s observations and opinions about a standout event or article(s) of the week followed by a discussion of articles that didn’t make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holiday weeks.

12 thoughts on “Why Apple May Have Delayed the New iMac

  • I wonder if Charlotte is able to return her Mini? Could be the luckiest timing ever, just within a return window.

    Yearly updates aside, (space grey, affordable SSDs, RAM doors on all models, etc, much less a 21century OS with touch and pencil support)
    iMac seems to have the least management FOCUS and yet get the best updates, most logical model line and potentially least BS about price.

    I think there’s a lesson there for all of us.

  • First, they decided to wait for the “Coffee Lake Refresh” from Intel.

    Possibly, but maybe the wait is built-in to the ROI of the cost for the Kaby Lake processors used in the current iMacs ( i.e. newer processors might cost more which results in lower margins )

  • What annoys me most about Apple is their feigned salute to transparency and everything green ( which I’m fine with ) while making their products almost completely inaccessible for repairs. If they honestly said their goal is to make products that make them more money by forcing more users to buy new machines, I could respect that ( btw: everyone should read Apple’s PR response to Spotify’s lawsuit – doesn’t even address the issue Spotify presents – this was noted by Adam Engst in his Tidbits column too ). Instead they try ( unsuccessfully IMO ) to convince us a desktop machine that hardly ever moves needs to be thin and forced to thermal CPU throttling.

  • “But Apple always wants just the right chip in a new lineup. So that may explain the delay.”

    Apple’s decisions, despite their marketing hype, are largely financially-driven. Intel’s eighth gen “Sunny Cove” processors are almost here and surpass Cannon Lake and Coffee Lake. My suspicion is processor price is key. Even their high end machines ( I can point you to a Snazzy Labs video on a tear down if needed ) , such as the iMac Pro, Apple opts for a lower-priced processor ( had nothing to do with thermals as the video showed ) because they probably received a good price on a bunch of imperfect processor batches. Large companies like Apple negotiate multi-year supplier contracts that they often need to milk to the end to achieve their profitability goals ( and you can be sure Maestri’s spreadsheets tell him exactly how many of each product they need to sell to achieve those goals ).

  • Fight programmed obsolescence, protect the environment and fight climate change and global warming:

    Apple should release more headless Macs, including low, middle and high products, from Mac mini to Mac Pro, and also a new mini tower. CPU may last seven years (then you cannot install new macOS releases but displays last more than 20 years.

    Wired whatever, whenever possible is GREAT. Bring wired keyboard including hub with two USB 3.1 ports type C (reversible) Generation 2 (10 Gbps). And also wired mouse. Even better would be a Thunderbolt 3 keyboard with built-in hub with two Thunderbolt 3 ports (40 Gbps). Wireless whatever is a waste of energy (environmentally obnoxious), inconvenient (recharge headache) and unresponsive sometimes.

  • There’s no easonable technical explanation of why Apple hasn’t updated the iMacs (other than the Pro) since June 2017. That’s an eternity in the technology/computing world. There’s no other explanation other than milking profit or they’ve moved focus away from hardware to the point that they’re non-competitive on performance and price. And I didn’t think I’d ever say that.

    And moving to ARM processors?? Will they run Microsoft Office products natively? If not, the Mac will become the isolated non-compatible thing it was before going to Intel processors. I don’t want that. I don’t want to look at converted documents that barely resemble what the originals looked like coming from a PC

  • My prediction, no ARM chips until 2020 MacBooks. AMD not Intel will run the Mac Pro and iMac’s. Not based on anything but the knowledge of how well the new Ryzen and Threadrippers process video with multi core aware applications. Also their integrated graphics are far superior to Intel’s, they’d be perfect for the low cost 23 inch iMac coming out.

  • With all the tens of thousands of people working for Apple, stories like this make one wonder just how many people actually work on the design and production of an individual product, such as in this case, the iMac. Is it just 6 people? With products left to rot for years and years between refreshes, I have to wonder just why this is so. Some articles rationalize the situation using lines such as “Apple has been focusing on iPhone for a while, turning their attention away from desktops”, well, does that mean that not one single person has been working on iMacs? How many people need to be assigned to a particular product in order for that product to be updated on a regular basis like every other manufacturer seems to be able to do every year? I am flabbergasted that some Apple products have been allowed to completely become obsolete with no upgrades for years (cough….Mac Pro).

    1. There was an editorial on TMO, by John Kheit I think, on that. It argued that as Apple has gotten bigger the R&D budget has gotten bigger, but the output has gone down. Apple isn’t getting nearly “the bang for the buck” that it got ten or more years ago.

  • “The latest available iMac is still a 2017 Kaby Lake model”

    How hard would’ve it been to do a spec bump while the real update progressed?

    I’m very much in the market to upgrade iMacs. Need updated power and cooling, NEED Boot Camp. Have cash in hand but am not putting it towards a new two-year-old machine. Apple, please. 🙂

    1. I was in this exact same position a couple months ago. I had a 2012 iMac that despite being that old, was still in good working order but had been declared “vintage” by Apple, meaning it could not be upgraded to Mojave. So I was in the market for a new iMac, but in the years since I bought the old one, iMacs have only been upgraded a couple of times, and as you note, the last upgrade was 2 years ago. So, not knowing whether the iMac line would be updated this year, or 2-3 years down the road, I went ahead and bought the 2-year-old machine. I hate doing that but what else can one do? I am not buying a Windows machine, no way, but I do look at them and wonder why they can be updated every year while Apple continues to sell years-old computers.

  • I’m amused by all the speculationon various Apple news sites, both in articles and the comments, about what will be included in the March 25 event. New iMacs, new MacPro, new AirPods, all sorts of things have been suggested by the overly hopeful. I just laugh. This will be a media event. TV service, News service, maybe changes to iCloud, I hope. But no hardware.

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