Apple, a company probably best known for offering "premium" devices at a premium price, has made a surprising move announcing a new entry level iMac with a $200 price drop. With that discount however comes a bit of a cost, a major drop in performance.
The new Apple iMac features a 21.5-inch LED-backlit screen, a 1.4 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive. That's far less powerful than Apple's previous "low-end" iMac, which had a 2.7 GHz processor and a 1 TB (1,000 GB) hard drive. In fact that’s roughly half the processing speed of other quad-core iMacs and identical in almost every way to the MacBook Airs.
Apple generally isn't known for offering 'entry level' mainstream devices to consumers. Their niche has always been offering a 'high quality' device with a 'premium' look and feel. Recently however, the company has made moves to break that mold by offering lower cost 'budget' friendly options such as the new iPhone 5C. Still the company generally doesn't reduce prices on their devices until the model ages, or the company releases an updated version. Even then those models retain the same components, or even offer slight improvements with, for example, a boost to the processor.
Stephen Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group and an expert on U.S. retail sales believes the recent reductions in price and new offerings of budget friendly devices is a move to take Apple to a more mainstream market.
"There's a lot more attention paid to volume at Apple," Baker said. "The earlier MacBook Air price changes, the amount of discounting that's going on with the iPad and iPhones as well, it feels like there's a lot more attention at Apple to getting to more mainstream pricing and more mainstream customers."
Even with the reduction in price Apple is still charging customers a 'premium' over current Windows based models with similar specifications. The average price of a Windows based touch-screen all-in-one with similar specifications and screen size is roughly $800. While the average for non-touch Windows all-in-ones can be found for well was under $500. So Apple's $1,100 is still pretty high.
Will that matter to consumers, no probably not. For those Apple fans looking to buy Apple just for the sake of having Apple, or because they want the new unified experience Mac OS X Yosemite offers the price drop will just be seen as a bonus.
The less expensive iMac is already available on Apple's website and will ship within 24 hours. But it won't yet come preloaded with OS X Yosemite, the operating system Apple unveiled at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month. Customers who buy the iMac now can download OS X Yosemite for free this fall.