How important can a computer be for Apple that the company hasn’t overtaken in more than two years – and which even the rumor mill is currently largely ignoring? On today’s 25th anniversary of the iMac, which first went on sale on August 15, 1998, a look at the former king of all-in-one machines is downright depressing.
Anyone who buys the very latest iMac, which was presented in spring 2021, is buying scrap iron – albeit a pretty colorful one. The integrated Apple silicon SoC M1 was replaced by the M2 in 2022, and the M3 generation is coming soon. The screen is modestly small at 24 inches, even the studio display is 27 inches. Only the form factor remains good, the all-in-one case is flat, takes up hardly any space on the desk and is elegant. The big 27-inch iMac was even discontinued and remained in the Intel age.
However, the question must be allowed as to whether such a computer is still needed nowadays. Should Apple maybe scrap the iMac?
look back ahead
First a look back. 1998 was a completely different time. At that time, Apple had fallen into chaos with an enormously complex and unprofitable product portfolio that Steve Jobs radically cleaned up. With the iMac, Apple’s first real people’s computer after the Apple II came onto the market after a short time: easy to use, with Internet access, an integrated color screen and comparatively powerful. Old habits like Apple’s old interfaces were cut off in favor of USB. There were no more floppy drives, which was a sacrilege at the time. The case was colorful and transparent at the same time, the mouse (unfortunately) shaped like a hockey puck. Entire industries copied Apple’s design.
Mac & i editor Ben Schwan has been writing about technology topics since 1994 and now focuses his attention particularly on Apple devices. He likes the design of the Mac, iPhone and iPad and believes that Apple often delivers the more user-friendly products. However, the hardware and software world from Cupertino is not always perfect for him.
Then there were always new incarnations. The iMac got a flat screen instead of a tube, became a sexy “lampshade” in different sizes with a swiveling screen. Finally, in 2004 – the author of these lines still remembers the keynote with Phil Schiller in Paris very well – the iMac G5 came onto the market, which in principle also defines today’s design: square flat screen, aluminum stand, all components behind the display . After the plastic iMac, an aluminum unibody housing was later used, the computer was given Intel processors instead of PowerPC chips, and was also available in sizes of up to 27 inches and as a workstation variant.
It depends on
Then, finally, in 2021, Intel liberated itself with the iMac M1, which brought the all-in-one into the Apple silicon age. It was expected that Apple would quickly follow up with a larger Pro-style model – with 27 inches like Intel once did or even 32 inches. Alone, nothing happened at first. At the moment one can assume that Apple is planning a rather simple iMac M1 successor as an M3 model, which will probably not be seen until next spring – a full three years after the first variant. Whether a larger iMac will follow is unclear.
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Retrofitting a missing floppy drive on the first iMac? No problem with a bit of soldering skill – even if the end result is not particularly attractive.
Which brings us back to the original question: do we still need an iMac after 25 years? I would answer like Radio Yerevan: It depends. Of course you can also treat yourself to a Mac mini or a Mac Studio plus Studio Display. Or simply a MacBook (Air / Pro) as the main working device including dock and screen. But there are still use cases where the minimalism of an iMac stands out. Standard office applications, for example, but also video editing and design, where you want to have as few cables and additional devices as possible. But that only works if the all-in-one is up to date. That means: current SoCs plus a larger screen. But does Apple even want that? The iMac deserved some love in its 25th year.
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