iMac Pro is NOT Dead… Yet!

I was talking to Jony Ive. Briefly. Years ago. Not a flex. In the hand’s-on area following a big event where Apple had just released a bushel of new products, and the person next to me mentioned how they all looked really good. Really great. And Jony got this… deeply pensive look on his eye and he said… did they? He didn’t know. He wouldn’t know, couldn’t know, until customers got their hands on them… and showed Apple what the products really were. It was… Hold that thought!

Apple just launched a brand new machine with a 27-inch IPS P3 5K display, but instead of wrapping it around an M1 or M1 Pro running macOS Monterey… instead… instead… they wrapped it around an A13 running iOS 15. A bit. And paired it with the new Studio Mac. The first new Mac in almost a decade. Hold that thought too.

At that same exact time, Apple killed the 27-inch Intel iMac. But not like last year when they killed the 21.5-inch iMac after replacing it with a sleek new M1 model. No. This one they didn’t replace at all. They killed it… just to watch it die. Hold that thou— no, that’s three… Juggle those thoughts just one more minute.

Because reports on whether or not Apple is ever going to replace the bigger… Pro’er iMac have been… all over the place for the last couple of weeks, from… it’s coming soon to… it’s coming later… to it’s not coming at all, ever. RIP. DED.

With some saying the 27-inch being discontinued and the Mac Pro being deliberately singled out as the only Mac still waiting on Apple silicon proves it’s dead, while others say killing he Intel box is how they drive people to the Mac Studio — for now — and that the iMac has already moved to Apple silicon, so we’re not waiting on that, we’re only waiting on more of that.

But what if they’re all wrong. Or rather, none of them are. What if it’s not really that complicated. And the various products and reports we’re seeing aren’t actually in conflict. It just… it just comes down to understanding Apple as a culture, not a company. If it’s… yeah… what they do that defines them.

So, here’s what we know we know: In June of 2020, Tim Cook announced the transition to Apple silicon. In November, M1. In April of 2021, the all-new 24-inch M1 iMac. In November of of 2021, the death of the last, lowest end 21.5-inch Intel iMac. In March of 2022, the all-new Mac Studio and Studio Display, with only the Mac Pro remaining on the to-update list. And the very same day, the death of all of the 27-inch Intel iMacs.

Now, Apple doesn’t usually kill off existing product lines when new versions are on deck. They are… almost shameless about keeping a Mac mini or Mac Pro on the market long, long after the expiration date if something like a 2018 or 2019 rebirth is in the works.

By contrast, when Apple does kill off an existing product line, it’s usually because they want to get out of that business entirely, like Xserve, or the AirPort routers, or because they want to quickly, cleanly move people towards a replacement product, like HomePod to HomePod mini, and now — maybe — 27-inch iMac to Mac Studio with 27-inch Studio Display. Hit subscribe to see my reviews.

Now, here’s what we think we know:

In October of last year, Ross Young of Display Supply Chain Consultants reported on a 27-inch MiniLED display coming from Apple in the first quarter of 2022. Now… basically. But he quickly revised that to a 27-inch MiniLED iMac for the same time frame. Now-ish. By January of this year, though, he revised the timeline to June, when Apple typically holds their World Wide Developer Conference, WWDC. But then, following Apple’s March 8 event and the launch of Mac Studio and the Studio Display, he revised it yet again, this time back to a 27-inch MiniLED display… and not a 27-inch iMac.

So let’s add Ross to the Dead Pool list for a minute. Not that Deadpool. 9to5 Mac too, because Filipe Espósito, who did a lot of the early coverage on the Mac Studio and Studio Display, has since reported that Apple has no plans for a new, high-end iMac any time in the near future. Meaning, no 27-inch model, and no M1 Pro or Max model.

2 nothing. Until Mark Gurman of team Bloomberg hits the court. He’s been reporting on an updated 27-inch or larger Apple silicon iMac for over a year now, initially alongside what quickly became the 24-inch M1 model, but more recently, on Twitter, as an iMac Pro counterpart to last fall’s MacBook Pros. And he’s still holding to hope. He’s still expecting an iMac Pro, but not for this year — in other words, it isn’t shipping soon. But can’t believe anyone isn’t expecting it.

That’s one for the life pool… And make it two, because supply-chain exfiltrator extraordinaire, Kuo Ming-Chi, who’s suddenly begun tweeting like they just launched the platform, is now predicting a new iMac Pro for 2023.

2-2. Shrodingers iMac.

But culture, not company. Why, not what.

So, maybe Apple starts planning the Mac’s transition from Intel to custom silicon. All the ultra-low power models up first. MacBook Air, Pro, Mac mini, then iMac. The small iMac. All with M1. Done. Shipped. Then wave 2. The big kid MacBook Pros first. With M1 Pro and M1 Max. But also the higher end Mac mini and iMac. All with M1 Pro and M1 Max. Get ‘em prototyped up and everything.

But then… they stop. They just stop. Because… their customers want them, but it’s also the only thing they can want because it’s the only thing they know. It’s that old Ford line about never making the car because all their customers ever wanted was faster horses. It’s literally faster horses.

So, they start to think — what’s the actual product mix between Mac mini and pro, between iMac and iMac Pro. How much of that is already covered by the M1 Mac mini and M1 iMac… how much is still left for a Mac mini and iMac Pro… and how much could be filled by a Mac mini and iMac Pro that were… kinda one and the same? Not an all-in-none or an all-in-one, but a new, modular system where you could choose between two levels of compute cores, and two levels of Apple Displays… or just get your own display.

Modular, not like Apple used the term before to describe the 2019, non-trashcan Mac Pro. They’d have to change that messaging to expandable or something. Because that’s going to be it’s main differentiator now. Expandability. But these are the trashcan… at least as the trashcan was meant to be. Trashcan — trash box! — the space gray. And what if they put M1 Pro and M1 Max into the boxes — No, scratch that — M1 Max and M1 Ultra. And launch them alongside that new 27-inch consumer display they’d been working on for a while. And if anyone wanted more, there was the Pro Display XDR they’d announced a couple and half years ago. Or the next generation version they were planning to launch sometime in the next year.

That way, they weren’t offering essentially the same systems, in parts and in whole. And when, rarely, new display tech came out, you wouldn’t have to upgrade your Mac just to get it, and when, far more frequently, new Apple silicon was ready, you wouldn’t have to swap out the display either.

And what about the Mac mini Pro and iMac Pro already in the pipeline? What about them. They’re prototyped. They’re not going anywhere. They can abide. And Apple can test the market with Mac Studio and Studio Display, let customers get their hands on them, and see what they really are.

The M2 Mac mini and 24-inch M2 iMac are on the way. And they’ll have slightly better single core perf, if nowhere nearly the massively multiple cores… So if customers show Apple they love the Mac Studio and Studio Display, and demand for a Mac mini Pro and iMac Pro plummet, then fine. This is the new normal, as far as lineups go. Rest in two new pieces, iMac.

But if there still ends up being a Mac mini Pro or iMac Pro-sized hole in the market, or both, then also fine. They’re prototyped. They can just as easily be moved into production. And then, let the best Macs win.

Because, remember, end of the day, Apple really, truly doesn’t care about cannabilizing their own products. They just don’t want anyone else to do it. So, if Mac Studio eats Mac mini Pro or iMac Pro out of existence. So be it. But if Mac mini Pro or iMac Pro fights back, and wins, or better yet, grows the market at Window’s expense, Apple wins. Like the House.

Which is why Shrodinger’s iMac Pro isn’t really alive or dead. Not yet. Not at all. That box simply hasn’t been opened yet. It’s in literal Apple product limbo waiting to see how well or poorly the Mac Studio and Studio Display sell, maybe the next round of M2 minis and iMacs as well, what we show Apple these new products really are, and how much those of us who still really, truly want a new Apple silicon iMac Pro, or at least still think we do — how much noise we make in the meantime. How much demand for it Apple can forecast.