Apple: No new iMacs for you

Gregg Keizer
26 October, 2012
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Apple’s newest iMac won’t be available to customers until November. Although Apple on Wednesday unveiled redesigned iMac desktop computers, it has none to sell, nor is it taking pre-orders for the slimmer, higher-priced all-in-one.

At the same time, Apple pulled the previous generation of iMacs from its website.

Apple’s online store shows the iMac – both 21.5-in. and 27-in. models – as shipping in November and December, respectively. There is no way to pre-order the new machines.

Nor was Apple’s sales department able to take a pre-order. An Apple sales representative told Computerworld that the new iMacs were not yet posted in Apple’s internal sales system, that he could not take a pre-order, and that he did not know when pre-orders would start.

The representative, however, did say he would take contact information and call when pre-orders opened.

Apple revealed the new iMacs at an event Wednesday in San Jose, California, where it also launched the iPad Mini and a Retina display-equipped 13in. MacBook Pro.

It’s not unusual for Apple to announce new hardware and pause several days before starting to take pre-orders, then take a week or more to stock the goods in its retail stores and begin delivering orders to customers. The iPad Mini, for example, goes on sale November 2, pre-orders kicked off on Friday.

But it is atypical of the detail-oriented company to reveal a product, defer shipping for weeks or more than a month, not accept pre-orders from customers, and at the same time withdraw the just-superseded models from sales.

Essentially, Apple has stopped selling the iMac through its online store.

“I do not recall them doing something like this before,” said Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner analyst, in an email reply to questions.

Stephen Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group who tracks retail sales, agreed. “Typically, they don’t have products that are shipping that far out,” Baker observed of the November and December estimated release dates.

The only older iMacs for sale by Apple via its website are refurbished systems, which are often units returned by customers that the company sells at a discount.

Another analyst thought the omission was so unusual that he believed it to be an error or glitch of some sort.

“It has to be a mistake. At the very least, they will allow you to pre-order,” said Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research. “If they don’t fix it fast, it will be a problem, but I’m sure something will change soon.”

Apple did not reply to questions about why customers could not pre-order a new iMac when the older models had disappeared.

Earlier this year, there were rumors that Apple would refresh the iMac in the fourth quarter, and that shipments would be delayed. Much of that speculation, however, focused on the iMac receiving a Retina-style display, which did not happen Wednesday. Other reports predicted a slower-than-normal ramp-up of iMacs because of supplier issues.

Those may have to do with the iMac’s new screen, which Philip Schiller, head of Apple’s marketing, said yesterday had been reengineered by reducing its thickness and laminating the glass to the screen. “We’ve never laminated a display this large to glass,” said Schiller. “But the benefits are huge.”

The inability of customers to pre-order the new machines took NPD’s Baker by surprise. “It’s weird that they would not offer pre-order, it costs them nothing and doesn’t impact what’s out there [in the channel] today,” said Baker.

He offered two explanations for the lack of pre-orders.

“Maybe what they’re doing is trying to get customers to buy what they have left over [of the earlier models],” Baker said. “Or maybe there is some company philosophy where they’re just not comfortable taking pre-orders for products that far out. But it’s surprising, since there doesn’t seem to be any additional cost to do that.”

Other experts didn’t see the no-sales-now issue as a problem for Apple, even though the holiday sales season, traditional strong for Mac sales, is quickly approaching. Apple, for example, sold more Macs in the fourth quarter each of the last three years than in any other quarter.

“As long as Apple has a lot of inventory by the middle of November they will be okay,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in an email. “Sounds like there’s a possibility of delays [beyond Apple’s stated ship times.”

“I doubt they will miss out on the holiday sales,” echoed Milanesi of Gartner.

In the last four quarters that Apple has reported earnings, it has sold approximately, 5 million desktops, the vast majority of them iMacs. In the same span, it sold 13.2 million notebooks.

The 5 million iMacs translates into just over 96,000 desktops sold each week.

Baker rejected the idea that Apple was not selling iMacs of some sort. “People get way too hung up on the website,” Baker cautioned. “The Web is not even half their volume, they do more in their own retail stores and others. There are older iMacs out there.”


3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Tiby says:

    They are available in November, a few days away. What is it with Macworld’s Apple-bashing headlines these days?

  2. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    We balance them with all the pro-Apple ones, Tiby!

  3. KC says:

    what a joke apple is slowly becoming. Ive been waiting 7 months for a desktop computer and this is the BS they come out with. Now I have to buy an external optical drive to do the work Id like to do. What happened to all in one machine? Apple is over obsessed with making their product thinner and more aesthetically pleasing while sacrificing function. Im really starting to hate this company ever since Jobs passed away. They made their fortune off computers and this is how the treat their customers. Gota love a new imac that is thinner and uses new chipsets. Too bad the new processors will be out 3-4 months after customers get their hands on this imac, rendering the 2012 imac out of date. but wait it’ll take apple another 2 years to update the machine so all is good.

    no optical drive, 5400 HD, no upgradable ram. sounds like a step backwards in my opinion. Last time I checked, this was a desktop computer, not an laptop.

    launching in november but it will most likely be end or november, which in turn you will pre order the computer, and not get it til January! yay! great way to treat your customers apple. Oh by the way forgot to mention applecare. 400 dollars for imac applecare. LOL this company is becoming more and more of a rip off.

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