Apple’s online store was offline this morning with a “We’ll be back” message posted in its place. It wasn’t “broken,” Apple had simply pulled the curtain closed so it could push forward a new $1,099 21.5-inch iMac. Its lowest-priced model to date.
Traditionally, the Apple Store closes in the minutes or hours before a major product announcement, but there are times when a smaller hardware update or rollout gets the same treatment. There was some conjecture that this could be the prelude to an update of Apple’s popular MacBook Air laptop, possibly even a retina display (something Apple fans have been begging for for ages). However, the MacBook Air line remains unchanged.
This new offering, however, could appeal to those looking to get in on the ground floor of the Apple OSX experience, without sacrificing things like a screen (as they would for the cheaper, computer-in-a-little-box Mac Mini). The new iMac desktop all-in-on computer runs a considerably a slower 1.4 Ghz CPU than the next, more expensive iMac, which boasts a 2.7 GHz processor and costs $1,299. Apple also ratcheted down the hard drive to a half terabyte and switched out the Intel Iris Pro GPU for a more entry-level Intel HD Graphics 5000 GPU.
The timing of the tiny launch is notable, because today is also the day that Amazon will breach a new hardware category — mobile phones — one where Apple is one of two clear leaders (the other being Samsung). Coincidence or an effort to steal a little bit of Amazon’s thunder? You be the judge.
In the meantime, these new iMacs go on sale now and, according to Apple’s site, ship within 24 hours.