Why pending iMac and Mac mini updates are on the horizon

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By: switchtoamac at: 6:19 PM on April 24, 2008 | Comments (0)
We published a report earlier today that sheds light on a rumor that Apple may release new iMac models next week.  To understand why it makes sense, we need to look at Apple's current fiscal quarter.  Apple is participating in Q3 2008 - or in other words, the third fiscal quarter of 2008.  Apple's fiscal year runs from October to September.

Yesterday, Apple reported results for Q2 2008 (we'll provide analysis of the earnings report and Mac unit sales numbers whenever I can find time away from my MBA coursework and full time job duties!).  By looking at Apple's fiscal quarters, we can gain insight into pending releases.

Apple's release strategy is implemented in a manner to smooth Mac sales, a way to prevent spikes across the Macintosh lineup.  An orderly and systematic release cycle is used to not only ensure a steady growth rate and satisfy Wall Street but also prevent strains on the Supply Chain.  If simply wouldn't make sense for Apple to refresh / update numerous models across the Macintosh product family during a period where they are seeing significant growth.  Apple doesn't want to over promise and under deliver, a no-no for customers and especially Wall Street.  Besides, it allows Apple to run regression analysis to help them better predict product demand in the future.

Apple refreshed the portable line in Q2 (Jan - Mar).  MacBook and MacBook Pro updates were released on February 26 after the January introduction the MacBook Air.  In essence, there was a FULL refresh and expansion of the portable lineup.  Now enter Q2, the ideal time to update the desktop line given that early 2008 portable updates are out of the way.  Furthermore, it will allow Apple to direct more attention and resources at whatever is announced at WWDC 2008 in June.

iMac update
The iMac was last updated on August 7, 2007.  As of this posting, that was 261 days ago.  The average time between iMac updates is approximately 200 days so we're due for an update very soon.

What about the Mac mini?
AppleInsider posted a report last May that the Mac mini was on it's way out the door but then changed their tune this past March after they indicated that the mini would "rock on".  The Mac mini was also updated 261 days ago on August 7, 2007.  As it stands now, that's well past its average update interval.

What to expect?
We expect Apple to release iMac and Mac mini updates on the same date just as they did the last time the models were updated in August 2007.  Apple will likely ship the iMac and Mac mini with 45nm Penryn chips, the same chips found in the MacBook and MacBook Pro.  Both models should see speed bumps up to 2.8GHz Core 2 Extreme (iMac only), hard drive storage increase, as well as improvements to graphics processing.  We'll most likely see the Intel GMA X3100 integrated graphics processor, currently used in the MacBook line, included in the new Mac mini models.  We wouldn't rule out some physical refinements to the Mac mini.

May 6, 2008 - the 10th anniversary of the iMac
There is a possibility that Apple will release the new iMac models on May 6, the 10th anniversary of the original iMac release.  If so, that's less than two weeks from now.

The wait is almost over
So if you've been holding back your iMac or Mac mini purchase and can continue to do so for a bit longer, you'll be rewarded with new models to choose from.

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