After Apple’s March 8 event, they did a curious thing–they removed the 27″ iMac from its site. Apple later confirmed that it was gone, dead, fini.
Here are various Mac dudes from the internet on what they think this means in terms of a potential replacement:
John Gruber (Daring Fireball): I can’t speak to the rumors, but product-fit-wise, I think the 27-inch iMac doesn’t have a spot in the lineup anymore. I think the Mac Studio and Studio Display fill that spot. It even makes sense in hindsight that the consumer-level iMac went from 21 to 24 inches, if it’s going to be the one and only iMac.
Stephen Hackett (512 Pixels): I think it’s more likely that we see the iMac Pro resurrected as an all-in-one companion to the Mac Studio. This could take place even with Ternus’ wink-and-nod show at the end of today’s event.
Jarrod Blundy (HeyDingus): I’m not sure where that puts the future for a larger iMac. The 27-inch Intel iMac is gone from Apple’s website. Maybe they’re going to introduce a larger size with the M2 iMac. Or perhaps they’ve decided that at 24-inches and 4.5K resolution, it handily splits the difference between the old 21-inch (4K) and 27-inch (5K) iMacs.
Jason Snell (Macworld): We’ll see how the Mac Studio performs when it arrives on March 18, but it seems clear that Apple has decided to redefine the iMac’s place in the product line. Instead of packing it full of power, it has left that for the Mac Studio…While I hope that, in time, there’s a larger and more capable iMac for those who want one, I’m happy that the iMac is no longer the compromise users make because they don’t want a Mac Pro.
Mark Gurman (Bloomberg): FYI: Still expecting an iMac Pro, for those wondering. M2 versions of the Mac mini, MacBook Pro 13-inch and 24-inch iMac are also in development.
My take on the takes: Gurman has been pretty accurate with his sources over the last year or so, and I feel like Apple will continue a 27″ form factor all-in-one, but that they didn’t have one ready to go for this event. Why they decided to drop the current 27″ iMac in the meantime, I can’t say. Maybe supply was drying up and they didn’t want to keep making them with an eventual replacement coming?
Of all the takes, Gruber’s is the one that doesn’t immediately hold up as well, because some simple math shows how implausible it is. As Hackett points out, a base Mac Studio plus Studio Display is twice the price of a base 27″ iMac. Now, Apple has done this sort of thing before–the $3,000 “trashcan” 2013 Mac Pro was replaced with a $6,000 version in 2019–but I don’t think that’s what is happening here. In the case of the Mac Pro, they replaced a like model for a like model–a Pro for a Pro. The Mac Studio is clearly meant for professionals where a base 27″ iMac clearly was not, since it cost $1799. One final thing to add here: You could pair a Mac mini with a Studio Display monitor to bring the overall price down, but even that comes out to well above what the base 27″ iMac cost. I just don’t think it adds up–literally!
What this does mean, I think, is Apple is continuing its (absurd) strategy of equating size to “pro” (I guess we should be glad they don’t sell TVs. Anything above a 48″ model would be priced as a Pro model and cost $1,000 more). If Gurman is right, the next 27″ iMac will be more like the (also discontinued) iMac Pro, meaning a consumer-level iMac with larger display is effectively dead, but the 27″ (or larger) iMac will live on as a higher-priced “pro” machine.