New iMacs likely to be boon to Apple

Update below: Apple will hold a press event Tuesday and most observers expect the company to introduce a redesigned iMac. AppleInsider, News.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Update below: Apple will hold a press event Tuesday and most observers expect the company to introduce a redesigned iMac.

AppleInsider, News.com and Gizmodo noted last week that Apple had been calling analysts and media members to give them a heads up on the shindig at the company's Cupertino headquarters. Folks were told that the event is Mac related.

The bottom line: New iMacs are likely to juice Apple's Mac shipments for the September quarter. Meanwhile, these iMacs happen to line up with the back-to-school and holiday seasons.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster notes that the iMac hasn't been updated in 334 days compared to the product average of 168 days. In other words, the iMac is overdue for a refresh.

Munster reckons that the iMac will be updated with a "radically new form-factor" that should enable Apple to top his estimate of 1.9 million Mac units in the September quarter.

Munster says in a research note:

Apple seems to be replicating its iPod strategy in the Mac business. For the past two years Apple has announced new iPod models in Sept., ahead of the holiday shopping season; this year Apple is announcing upgraded Macs ahead of the education buying season. And similar to the successful holiday quarters in CY05 and CY06, we expect Mac sales in the CY07 education season to be strong.

Munster also adds that Apple is likely to shift investor and media focus back to its Mac business, which has been stellar of late. Lost in all the iPhone hoopla is that the Mac has been handily beating shipment expectations. Toss in products like VMware's Fusion, which launched today, and the excuses for not using a Mac are disappearing. It remains to be seen whether Apple will get enterprise gains, but the hurdles are far fewer these days. Auto Warehousing Co. CIO Dale Frantz cited software from Parallels as part of the reason he's moving toward Mac desktops.

Mac market share in the second calendar quarter rose to 3 percent globally compared to 2.6 percent in the March quarter, says Munster and the stars are aligning in Apple's favor for more share gains.

Munster adds two reasons why Mac sales are likely to remain strong:

  • The industry is moving toward portables, which benefits Apple.
  • OS X is being refreshed and introduced to users via the iPhone and most likely the iPod.

I'd add a few more. Macs are speedier on the Intel platform and it's easy to keep Windows running on a Mac if you're so inclined. In many respects a Mac is a two-fer. And the biggest reason for Mac success: Design matters and Apple is the best at it.

Other products--iLife and new MacBooks--are also possible but a revamped iMac will steal the show.

Update: It appears that there may be a .Mac update on Tuesday also. MacRumors reports that .Mac service will be down at the same time as the presentation. Hmm.

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