Apple yesterday launched its most expensive-ever iMac, the $2,499 iMac with Retina 5K display, a desktop that will appeal to not only professional creative customers but also well-heeled consumers who want the very best money can buy, analysts said.
The new iMac brings Apple's higher-resolution display — which the company has long labeled "Retina" as a marketing term — to a second computer line, following in the footsteps of the MacBook Pro.
"Clearly, it's a good machine for creative professionals," said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research, in an interview yesterday. "But it's also for those where money is no object, who want a very good PC."
Other analysts agreed.
"It's both a niche product and a premium mass-market product," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. "It's for professionals who don't need the absolute best, like a Mac Pro, but also for prosumers who just want the best."
Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies also weighed in. "At $2,499, this price is SMB- and consumer-friendly for some families looking at an all-in-one desktop PC to become multipurpose home computers the whole family shares," Bajarin wrote on Tech.pinions today. Bajarin thought that, unlike the Mac Pro, the all-in-one iMac would be a more affordable pick for small- and medium-sized business (SMB) graphics professionals.
Not surprisingly, Apple spent much of the iMac's time in the spotlight yesterday touting the display, which offers 5120-by-2880-pixel resolution. "This is the world's highest-resolution display," boasted Philip Schiller, Apple's top marketing executive, who presented the 5K Retina iMac at Thursday's event.
Apple has never sold an iMac at a higher price point — at least not one with a higher entry-level price or one not customized by the customer — although it's launched several at $1,999. (Bets are off when the original Mac from the '80s is in the mix: The so-called "Fat Mac" of 1984, which included 512K of RAM, cost $3,195, or in 2014 dollars, about $7,314.)
Rather than replace any of the already-available iMacs in the portfolio, Apple inserted the Retina 5K iMac into a new top spot, just as it did when it introduced a Retina-equipped MacBook Pro notebook in June 2012.
The new price bands of the iMac resemble those of the MacBook Pro in mid-2012. Then, Apple priced the 15-in. MacBook Pro with a Retina display at $2,199, or $400 more than the same 15-in. with a lower-resolution screen and $1,000 more than the smaller 13-in. MacBook Pro sans Retina.
iMac's price now tops out at $2,499, $700 more than the same-sized 27-in. desktop with a non-Retina display and $1,400 above the smaller 21.5-in. model.
However, unlike in the 2012 move on the MacBook Pro, Apple did not refresh the already-in-place iMacs: The non-Retina models in both sizes remained unchanged in specifications and price. With the exception of the introduction of a bottom-end iMac in June — a slower machine that uses the same 1.4GHz Core i5 processor and Intel HD Graphics 5000 chipset as the MacBook Air — the non-Retina iMac line was last updated more than a year ago.
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