So the Apple Event happened, and the dust has now settled. The Apple Event 2022 had some big announcements. Yet the biggest one was entirely silent: They just announced the death of iMac 27″ and iMac Pro. RIP iMac 27″!
I don’t normally watch these things; it seems more for the Mac fanatics to applaud and the fanatical critics to jeer, in the timeless (and tiresome) ‘Mac vs. Windows…’ endless debate. Meh. But for some reason, I was drawn to the 2022 Apple Event. Sure, there was some unnecessary nonsense releases and over-the-top fanfare about what colour something was (green, really?). But for a mildly interested and long-term Mac/Windows user, there was eyebrow-raising news among the polished presentation. In summary, I felt the urge to offer some thoughts and perspectives on the situation.
Some users want even more, so they can push the limits of their creativity.Apple Event, 8 March 2022
Here I’ll summarise the highlights, pointing out how the flagship iMac 27″ and iMac Pro just died an untimely death. I also outline the awesome-but-expensive replacement new products, and explain the key reasons why I believe this may be a massive rare mistake for Apple’s business.
Apple Event March 2022: Summary & Video
If you didn’t catch the ‘Peek Performance’ event, here’s a summary of the highlights:
Apple TV: First 5 mins is a long ad for their Apple TV. As a Netflix and Prime subscriber, this was entirely skippable for me.
iPhone 13: Meh, new phone, powerful and expensive. Though I generally use iPhones, I’m not an early adopter of new tech; there’s many more important things in life to spend money on (like insane electricity bills recently!). However, the more affordable iPhone SE is an attractive proposal at under £20 / month. It has plenty of power, storage, and attractive features. Nice one! But frankly as a photographer, I still prefer choosing cameras for what I take my photos with, not phones.
The colour green: There seemed to be some hype that you can now choose the iPhone in green. That is before you cover it up, putting the expensive bit of tech in a protective case like everyone else. Yes, really.
iPad Air: Fancy kit for nice bit of fun, games, and creativity for those spare cash to burn. Otherwise, you’d spend your £1000 more sensibly on a MacBook Air if wanting to use for serious business!
M1 Ultra: I’m no expert on processor chips, but this was the first exciting bit of the presentation. Apple seems to be merging things to the M1 range of processors, focusing on pushing their capabilities beyond current boundaries. And this latest version certainly fits the bill of typical Apple innovation, with powerful performance and fantastic future-proofing. While described as a game-changer in computing, it’s also however a game-changer in price of the associated kit…
Mac Studio: Apple manages to fanfare a fantastic new product, while simultaneously denigrating the rest of their Mac range! Some of the comparisons they were making seemed odd; really driving home the point that the rest of the Mac range (even Mac Pro!) is much slower in comparison. Don’t try this at home, small business owners and marketers! Interestingly, this new product shares its name with a well-know range of makeup and beauty products. As I explain later, they also perform a typically-Apple trick: We giveth, and we taketh away. In this instance, quietly disappearing both the iMac 27″ and iMac Pro in the process. Gulp!
Studio Display: In short: It’s the iMac 27″ display, minus all the useful computing stuff behind it. A really expensive screen, if you will. Nice if you can afford it, but after forking out for a Mac Studio to upgrade your previous iMac 27″, it’s not a small ask. Both the Studio Display and Mac Studio are available from 18 March.
I highlight the Mac Studio and Studio Display as the biggest announcements, which I will come to in the next section. You can also watch the event for yourself below, to delve more into whatever features take your fancy. There’s much to learn from how Apple deliver their presentations/marketing for those who want to ‘excel at the office’. Notice for example the attention to detail, such as Tim Cook’s Ukraine flag-coloured top and watch combo. Also notice their simple, snappy, powerful marketing techniques; it’s a key reason Apple remains a leader in its field. In addition, the designs are as always stunning.
Today, we’re going to focus on the place where so many people create their life’s best work, the studio.Apple Event, 8 March 2022
RIP iMac 27″ and iMac Pro: A Big Mistake?
Now on to the biggest yet silent announcement. Apple appears to think creative designers (their core user audience) are going to swoon about a massively expensive upgrade. This is because they’ll now be spending over double the dollars upgrading their smart all-in-one iMacs for a desktop base unit and screen combo. The image I compiled above demonstrates how it all adds up; and that’s just using the price of the base spec.
Here’s four reasons why I believe Apple are making a massive strategic error here, in relation to both their customers and competition:
- Sinking its Flagship: The image below points out shows what the Mac range looks like now. There’s now a big gap where the iMac 27 inch and iMac Pro used to be. The iMac 27″ models were their flagship product and something many designers (myself included) aspired to own. Both models often featured within independent ‘Top 5 All in One Computer‘ consumer lists online. I still have my 2008 iMac 24″, which was the biggest at the time. These large and powerful all-in-one computers are something Apple have led the field in for decades. They have just presented an open goal to their competition (mainly Samsung, Dell, Microsoft, HP) to occupy this space.
- All-in-Modules?: Apple said ‘many’ of their users are seeking ‘modularity‘ in their workflow, rather than all-in-one machines. I’m not sure such market research is accurate here. There is design appeal in itself to having everything tucked neatly behind a screen; no base unit or extra cables to deal with, even if it does fit ‘neatly’ under a monitor. I believe they are underestimating the psychology of people’s desire to remove clutter. This principle and mentality means more to people, especially designers, than the face-value practicality; a psychology Apple have previously spent decades successfully connecting with.
- Price Resentment: Normally, Apple do minor things to upset its users in the name of innovation. For example, the cost of an extra bespoke charging cable, an external DVD drive (remember that?), or making the base model new iPad Air virtually useless in 2022 with only 64 GB of memory (that’s less than many phones!). This tends to incur their customer £tens or £hundreds in what feels like ‘additional costs’. The Mac Pro and Studio Display combo however takes this to extortionate levels, now in the £thousands. For comparison, a decent iMac 27″ last month was around £2,000 and iMac Pro just over £3,000. The new Mac Studio setup can cost well over £4,000; especially if you don’t want the fairly limiting 512GB SSD base spec on such a high-end computer and thousands more if you want to take advantage of the new M1 Ultra chip it was made for! This is potentially a step too far for many customers; especially given the squeeze on both personal and small business finances in recent years.
- Stunting Sales: A major stepping stone from their standard iMac 24″ has therefore been removed. A £1,500 budget might have been stretched to £2,000 by an aspirational photographer/designer like myself. Or indeed for the ‘early adopter’ types who stay on the cutting edge. But it certainly won’t make the leap to £4,000 to £6,000+ for the new Mac Studio and Studio Display setup. Therefore, the only choice left is to stick to a 24″ iMac for under £1,500, or worse for Apple; hop to a competitor if I want a bigger model! All of this adds up to stunted sales, even if the new models have a higher profit margin.
This relatively chunky new ‘modular’ Mac Studio may therefore have a pretty hard time taking flight as the new Phoenix rising from the 27″ iMacs’ ashes. There is now a massive pricing bridge to jump to users. I wonder if my #RIPiMac27 hashtag will soon take off with the kickback?
Return of the Mac? You Know That I’ll Be Back…
Maybe it’s all a ruse and marketing ploy? I can imagine the smart marketing team within Apple may well have anticipated the push-back and furore of going a step too far in squeezing every last penny from their customers; or in this case an order of magnitude too far! Maybe they’re already working on a new iMac 27″ powered by the innovative M1 chips, and will have a ‘surprise’ launch next year. Whatever the situation, the speculation I’m sure will be rife; in the meantime I’ll instead hold onto my money and eek out my current kit.
In conclusion, I think the Mac Studio is a great piece of kit and will be around a long while for the super-advanced users. It’s like a compact yet supercharged Mac Pro; just check out the specs above. But I believe Apple are also too smart to not spot this apparent new gaping error in their product portfolio; or at least, not for long. Don’t be surprised if a bigger iMac features at the 2023 Apple Event. Powered by the M1 Max and Ultra, they might even call it ‘iMac Phoenix’…
I hope you’ve found these musings helpful. A little different from my usual ‘how-to’ tips, but hey, I like to share what interests me and it seems relevant. If you’d like to listen to my late-night and off-the-cuff amused/bemused reaction to all this, feel free to watch my video below. In the meantime, enjoy exploring your creative outlets, and I’ll be back again soon with another blog to help you excel at the office!
Kind Regards, Adrian