iPhone fuss be damned: Apple's pushing ahead with refreshing its other hardware, ready to bump up that revenues chart we showed you. Rumors say the Mac Pro and iMac line are getting a revamp, but will we see the Magic Slate too?
Apple's iConic iMac has pretty much generated a new market in stand-alone all-in-one PCs, many of which copy numerous design elements. The iMac hasn't had a significant design change in a while—the newer versions merely tweaked how the screen bezel worked (there almost isn't one, now) and slimmed the entire package down a little, while introducing a 27-inch screen size that almost transforms the Mac into a small family TV substitute.
Now there are numerous reports of supply chain delays at Mac retailers—and that's a classic sign that the inventory has been run dry in preparation for a whole new slew of machines to roll in. What can we expect? Some hints over the last several months have suggested the new iMacs will have USB 3.0 ports, for super-speed fiber optic comms with peripherals like external hard drives. Possibly faster FireWire too, to keep Apple's connectivity standard fresh. And we're pretty certain that there'll be no Blu-ray support, as Steve Jobs hasn't rescinded his notion that the format is a bag of hurt, and since some rumors hint that Apple's still busy negotiating with TV studios, it's not beyond the pale that more HD video content will be hitting iTunes soon anyway.
Will we see a tweak to the machine's design? Hard to say—the format has pretty much been minimized into a classic, leaving more room for an iPhone 4-like complete design meme overhaul than any more aesthetic polishing. It'd certainly be nice to see the iMac, which has gone through a huge and fascinating list of design evolutions, achieve the next level, perhaps with novel metal/glass bonding to create an even skinnier chassis ... just like the innovative production tweaks in the iPhone's new format.
Similar rumors are swirling around the Mac Pro's supply chain, with limited or zero availability for all varieties of the machine. It's likely to be getting a refresh that concentrates on its internal circuitry, as rumored by AppleInsider back in March, with Apple sticking with the Intel Xeon CPU range, but possibly adding in a top-tier dual-6-core machine. That'd turn the humble Mac Pro into the equivalent of some smaller supercomputer from a decade or so back, particularly if you include in the improved graphics processor power rumored to be arriving with ATI Radeon 5000 series cards, and Nvidia's new GeForce units too.
We've heard rumors about a touchpad peripheral from Apple for a while, but things got all excited a few weeks back with leaked photos of a device that borrowed the aluminum "unibody" look of Apple's keyboard peripherals, but had a smaller, square profile. Now there's news the a very similar looking piece of Apple hardware has slunk through the FCC's approval system, as a "Bluetooth trackpad." Will Apple add to the Mac refresh event with a handy little device that'll surely sell like hot cakes (to iMac users, or PC users, and which will incidentally be a sweet remote control for Apple TV's or FrontRow)? It would certainly attract attention away from the inaccurate media swirl around the iPhone 4. Though, admittedly, Apple's trying to do this already, by also announcing today the next stage of the phone's remorseless roll-out, with availability in 17 more nations from this Friday.
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