Sorry, No Retina iMacs This Year

| Monday, June 25th, 2012

In what was originally an article speculating about the shipment of Retina iMacs and Mac Pros, Marco Arment set out to give some thoughts about why Retina editions of iMacs were on the horizon for Apple. He stated, “My core theory: Apple believes that Retina displays are the only way to go from this point forward, and they’re waiting to update each family until it can be Retina-equipped.” While we mostly agree with him, he did have a number of “sources” reach out and tell him that while the iMac is coming this fall, it will not have a Retina display: “I’ve now heard from multiple sources that while an iMac update is indeed coming this fall, it will not have Retina displays. Oops. Can’t win ‘em all.”

We have a theory on why the iMac won’t be getting a Retina display this year, and it parallels why the iPad took a while to get a Retina display: a slow, gradual, rollout of new technology from one product to another so Apple can gauge its success before it goes all-in on Retina displays. Apple may believe that Retina is the future, but unless customers feel the same way, this whole gamble may not pay off. Why would Apple go all in on something as revolutionary as Retina displays in its monitors without testing the waters first? How bad would it look if Apple took its entire product line Retina, and customers hated them, ultimately leading Apple to revert to normal displays a year down the road?

Our gut tells us that customers will love the Retina displays, but it would be an extremely poor move for Apple to roll out Retina displays across their entire product line, only to have them perform poorly. Apple takes a conservative and measured approach to rolling out these kind of advancements, and it sounds like they’re doing the same with Retina display MacBooks and iMacs.

If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that Apple’s Thunderbolt Displays will get a Retina upgrade long before the iMac. The Thunderbolt display lines itself up very well with the same customers who pick up the new Retina MacBook Pro: professionals who need the added resolution for their apps and projects. If the Retina MacBook is as successful as everyone thinks it will be, my money is on Apple starting the Retina rollout with the displays, not a consumer level iMac.

Image Credit: Final Fashion

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