The 27-inch iMac conundrum
Allow me to speak on behalf of the world’s 27-inch iMac owners:
THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!
Ah. Good. Had to get that out of my system. Honestly, I have never been so appalled at an Apple strategy. Between the launch of Mac Studio and the simultaneous death of iMac 27, we who have so patiently waited for an Apple Silicon-powered 27-inch iMac are suddenly left with only two options.
We can hang onto our aging computers and simply hope that a new iMac 27 will one day appear. Or we can spend more than double the cost of a typical new iMac 27 for a Mac Studio + Studio Display.
There are only two ways to explain what Apple is doing. It is either failing the transparency test miserably, or it is blatantly committing an act of corporate greed. Sadly, “all of the above” is also a possibility.
Farewell, old friend
iMac 27 has been around for 12 years. This “prosumer” iMac has given high-end users (and many businesses) an option for faster processors, more storage and a professional workspace in a sleek all-in-one design.
We are the people who want more than an entry-level computer, but have little need for the performance and price of an iMac Pro or Mac Pro.
I am not a graphics or video professional. But my iMac 27 has more than enough muscle to run Adobe apps and Final Cut Pro when I need them. Better still, the all-in-one design keeps my physical desktop clean.
What my computer does not have is the benefit of an M1 processor and the redesign that has revitalized sales of the 24-inch iMac.
Patience without a payoff
When Apple unveiled the ultra-slim M1 iMac nearly one year ago, we iMac 27 owners were disappointed that our model was not similarly upgraded. But we are a hearty lot. We sucked it in, assuming that our day would come soon enough.
For months, we rejoiced in rumors that a new iMac 27 was in development. How could it not be? Of course Apple would have to bring this important class of customers into the Apple Silicon age.
When the “Peek Performance” event was announced, it seemed that a new iMac 27 would fit right in. But, instead reaping the reward for our patience, we were knocked off balance once again.
I don’t mean to rain on Mac Studio’s parade. It was a wonderful surprise, harking back to the good old days when Apple could actually keep secrets. It is awesome in every measure, designed for a critical segment of Mac users whose livelihood calls for computer-intensive work in graphics, music, video and web development.
It does everything incredibly well—except replace the iMac 27. That’s because the Mac Studio is way, way, way outside the price range that most iMac 27 users are comfortable paying.
As the event was ending, without any word about an M1 iMac 27, we could still cling to the hope that our new computer would arrive at some future event. That is, until Apple’s Senior VP of Hardware Engineering said that the transition to Apple Silicon was now nearly complete, “with just one more product to go: Mac Pro.”
“Huh? What about the 27-inch iMac?” we wondered. Within minutes, the other shoe dropped. Unceremoniously, the old iMac 27 was removed from Apple’s website—officially given “end-of-life” status.
A path not taken
Never in a million years did I imagine that Apple could leave such a large group of customers twisting in the wind. It’s frustrating. Even more so because Apple could remove the frustration by simply telling the truth.
Just the briefest of communiques would suffice. One tiny clue about the possibility of a new Apple Silicon-powered iMac 27. Do we sit tight, or do we make other plans?
Apple’s silence is a slap in the face to an important group of loyal customers. One of the traits that helped build the Apple brand—empathy for its customers—has tragically gone missing.
A word from Steve Jobs
Steve had a strong opinion about pricing (as he did about everything). That opinion came to the fore in our attempts to market the ill-fated Power Mac G4 Cube.
The Cube was a prosumer computer. From the start, Steve’s plan was to price it at $1,499, just $200 more than the iMac and far less than the Mac Pro. But in the days leading up to the launch, Steve walked into one of our regular marketing meetings in a dark, deflated mood.
He had just received catastrophic news from his manufacturing team—the Cube had to be priced at $1,799. Steve did not mince words. He said that at that price, the Cube was doomed. iMac customers could reasonably be expected to pay $200 more for a premium version, but $500 would be a deal-killer.
Savor that one as we return to the present.
iMac 27 customers are already paying at least a $1,000 premium over the price of the iMac 24. We’re cool with that. If we are to upgrade to a Mac Studio, we would be paying that premium, plus $2,000-$5,000 more. On what planet would that be a realistic option?
The obvious rebuttal is that the Mac Studio is not designed for high-end consumers. It’s for creative people running compute-intensive apps for video, graphics, music and web development.
Got it. But the obvious rebuttal to the obvious rebuttal is: what are we iMac 27 people supposed to do now? We’re lost!
I am dumfounded by this entire episode. (Could you tell?)
Before last week, I would have said it is not even remotely possible that Apple would orphan its iMac 27 customers. What makes our situation extra-debilitating is that we don’t know if this has really happened, or if we just think that this has happened—because Apple isn’t talking.
This is simply disrespectful to a large group of loyal Apple customers. Do we really have to make plans based on conflicting internet rumors? Just tell us. We can take it. Is there a plan for us or not?
Silence means that Apple is being guided solely by the profit motive. If they were to say that a new iMac 27 is in the works, the sub-group of iMac 27 owners willing to pay that much will be disincentivized. But going the silent route risks creating an even larger group of customers who feel ignored and abused.
This is corporate greed stacked on top of disrespect, with a side order of brazen nerve.
Apple has already played its hand. It has chosen the course of announcing the Mac Studio, discontinuing the 27-inch iMac and then going into Silent Mode. It is a stain that cannot be removed—but at this point, at least it can be mitigated.
All it would take is a tiny bit of transparency.
Help us out, Apple. Talk!