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iMacs May Be Next on Apple's Retina List

iMacs May Be Next on Apple's Retina List

Apple is reportedly gearing up for an iMac refresh this October. The company's been slapping Retina Display technology on lots of its new products lately, so it seems a Retina iMac could be in the cards. Retina Displays cram a great deal of pixels into a small space, but given the typical distance a desktop user sits from the screen, an iMac Retina Display may not require quite the PPI count as something like an iPhone.

By Richard Adhikari MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
07/05/12 5:00 AM PT

Apple is gearing up production of the next generation of all-in-one iMac computers for release in October, Digitimes has reported.

They will reportedly be equipped with Retina displays in a bid to outdo the competition, which is hot on Apple's heels with a combination of stronger focus on the all-in-one PC market and the coming of Windows 8.

Apple "has made it clear now that they're going to move towards higher-resolution displays across all their devices," Bob O'Donnell, a program vice president at IDC, said. "Of course, at some point, they're going to have something that they're going to call 'Retina Display,' but the term 'Retina' means different things to different products."

Output From the Rumor Mill

Apple's supply chain will be supplying components for the mass production of a new iMac product this month, Digitimes claims, citing unnamed sources.

The new product will be launched sometime in October. It will likely have a Retina Display. Apple will release newly designed iMac and so-called iMac Pro models in 2013, Digitimes reported.

However, Apple "have locked down communications from their supply chain very effectively," so it's not possible to confirm or deny what the company's doing from the production standpoint, Rhoda Alexander, director of tablet and monitor research at IHS iSuppli, told MacNewsWorld.

On the other hand, "Apple has a strong place within the all-in-one PC market, but has been facing a significant amount of competition," Alexander continued. "Lenovo is pushing all-in-one PCs in China and HP is pushing them in the United States, Europe and China." That could mean a new iMac is indeed in the works.

Get Hoppin'

If Apple's looking to unveil a new iMac in late September or early October, it "will need to start production this month," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, told MacNewsWorld.

The possibility that Apple will launch a new iMac in the fall "is probably a reasonable expectation," IDC's O'Donnell told MacNewsWorld. "They're overdue in refreshing the line, so doing it in fall for the holidays makes perfect sense."

Apple may add Thunderbolt, HDMI and other features to the new iMac, O'Donnell speculated. "You can look at what they'll do by looking at their last laptop release; on certain factors, Apple will take an interface and deploy it on one device, and then it shows up everywhere."

The addition of a touchscreen is also a possibility because Apple may want to compete with the advent of Windows 8, which is touch-friendly, iSuppli's Alexander suggested.

On the other hand, perhaps Apple is starting pre-production manufacturing to work out the kinks of some new processes, Carl Howe, a vice president at the Yankee Group, speculated. "That suggests to me that they are working on new displays and the new Ivy Bridge Intel processors and chipsets."

Ruminations on the Retina Display

Apple can afford to extend the highly expensive Retina Display to a larger form factor because "in the all-in-one market, Apple's price to the end user is significantly higher than the competition's, so they have more flexibility than others," iSuppli's Alexander stated.

The Retina Display "is [Apple's] new signature item, and it would likely not go well if it was left off [the iMac] line," Enderle pointed out. Further, extending the Retina Display to the iMac line will increase Apple's yield from the technology and lower its overall cost.

There's no one fixed resolution for the Retina Display, so don't expect the same resolution in terms of pixels per inch (PPI) on the iMacs as on other iProducts. "Apple's leveraging the fact that scientific research has found there are limits to the resolution the human eye can see based on distance," O'Donnell said. "The further you assume the distance is from the eye to the screen, the lower the PPI needs to be."

So, for a 27-inch iMac, Apple "could get away with a little over 100 PPI," O'Donnell remarked. The iPhone 4 "has a screen resolution of just over 300 PPI, and the third-generation iPad about 260 PPI."


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