Apple’s Peek Performance event just unveiled the impressive new M1 Ultra, Mac Studio, and Studio Display. All three are exceptional feats of computing power that will blow away all competition if everything Apple says pans out. But, these machines, with their professional audience (and price points), leave a massive hole in the Mac ecosystem.
Where is the 27” iMac?
I’ve been waiting for a new 27” iMac since Apple announced the transition to Apple Silicon in June 2020. When the updated 24” iMac launched last year, I figured Apple was waiting to put higher-end chips in the eventual 27” model. That didn’t happen.
When the M1 Pro and M1 Max launched, I figured either these or an eventual desktop-class chip was designated to the 27” iMac. I was wrong again.
Today, Apple launched its new stand-alone monitor with a Center Stage camera and additional USB-C ports. The Studio Display is the 27” iMac I’ve been waiting for; Apple just forgot to include the computer. To add insult to injury, Apple discontinued the 27” iMac altogether. I guess I’m not getting the computer I wanted.
What options do big-screen fans have?
As a freelance writer who also edits graphics for the web, my computing needs are not exceptional. I currently use a base-model M1 Mac mini that serves my needs quite well. The computer is paired with an adequate 27” Dell 4K display and Logitech video camera.
Based on Apple’s product offering, I should use a 24” iMac and be happy. With a base price of $1,299, that option meets most of my needs. Except I like the additional real estate a 27” monitor provides.
With today’s discontinuation of the 27” iMac, the lowest cost Mac and display combination begins at $2,298 — the base model Mac mini paired with a Studio Display. Before being scrubbed from the internet, the now-discontinued 27” iMac started at $1,799. Sure, the Studio Display is far superior to the previous offering, but there’s no longer a middle ground. Why?
Apple’s move is bizarre from a marketing standpoint. Apple now sells
- A 24” screen with an entire computer built-in for $1,299
- A 27” screen with a camera and USB ports for $1,599
- A 32” screen for $4,999 (plus the stand for $999)
For $300 more, you get a bigger screen but lose an entire computer? These price points don’t make a lot of sense.
Why did Apple make this move?
Why Apple chose to discontinue the 27” iMac, leaving users who want that size display is anyone’s guess. However, I think it comes down to profitability.
Aside from the 5K display, the Studio Display has an A13 chip, speakers, a camera, and some ports. Like the Apple TV, Apple can update the Studio Display every few years instead of once or twice a year like its computers. Fewer options lead to more profitability. Less upgrading required leads to more profitability.
Plus, the four-year-old 27” iMac Pro used the same 5K screen, just with 100-fewer nits of brightness. It’s not like Apple is manufacturing anything groundbreaking with the Studio Display, which keeps the costs down and the profitability up.
Will there ever be a larger iMac again?
At the end of today’s Peek Performance, the presenter said one computer remained in the transition to Apple Silicon: the Mac Pro. My guess is Apple will unveil the brand new Mac Pro at WWDC in June and an even more powerful desktop-class chip to go with it.
An iMac Pro might again come down the line with the same chip-set as the Mac Pro, though at this point, I’m not holding my breath. And, if it did, it’d likely be price way outside the Apple Studio ballpark. Apple has made it very clear that if you want something bigger than the 24” iMac, a separate Mac and display are your only options.
Are you lamenting the loss of the 27” iMac, too? Will you purchase a Studio Display? Let me know in the comments.