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Cheaper iMacs, Retina MacBook Air make best contenders for WWDC reveals

Gregg Keizer | May 28, 2014
More price cuts would prove Apple's serious about gaining share.

Apple will unveil new or refreshed Mac personal computers next week, and all three major lines are potential candidates.

On June 2, the opening day of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company will trumpet the new versions of iOS and OS X, but if it follows precedent, it will also tout new Mac hardware. In three of the last five years Apple announced new Macs at WWDC: The Mac announcements in 2012 and 2013 were probably prompted by Apple's decision to push new iPhone introductions into the fall.

WWDC is heavily covered by the media, and Apple would not have wanted to waste the opportunity to trot out something new on the hardware side. A 2014 repeat is expected.

Mac sales
Mac sales in the last reported quarter amounted to about 6% of all personal computer shipments during the three-month period. (Data: Apple.)

Last year, the refresh was of the MacBook Air, and included price cuts; the year before, Apple introduced the first MacBook Pro with a high-resolution "Retina" display, a move that boosted both sales and the Mac's ASP, or average selling price.

This year, the iMac and MacBook Air have the best chances of seeing some WWDC stage time.

iMac shipping times on Apple's e-store lengthened to three to five business days over the weekend, a move that often precedes a hardware change as the company draws down inventories. The longer delay between ordering and shipping was shown on Apple's U.S. online store, as well as those for customers in Canada, China, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and others.

AppleInsider first noted the iMac status changes.

Some analysts expect Apple to couple the new iMacs with a price cut, which is not out of the question as the Cupertino, Calif., last month dropped MacBook Air prices by $100 across the board.

Apple tends to move prices by $100 increments, so if cuts are imminent, they would probably reduce the 21.5-in. model to $1,199 and the 27-in. all-in-one to $1,699, reductions of 8% and 6%, respectively. Those prices would return the iMac to numbers last seen in mid-2012, before Apple botched the rollout of its last iMac redesign.

Also long rumored for a 2014 introduction is a Retina-equipped MacBook Air.

Although that line was just revamped in late April, Apple could reprise the tactic it used in 2012 when it launched the first Retina MacBook Pro. Then, Apple simply inserted a new model -- a 15-in. MacBook Pro with Retina -- into the line at a price $400 higher than the lowest-priced 15-in. stock model. The existing laptops' prices did not change. Only later did Apple add Retina to other MacBook Pros.


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