Apparently, the death of the 17" inch iMac has been grossly overestimated. It seems that the global economic meltdown has prompted Apple to help out cash-strapped educational budgets by offering them an "education only" 17" model of the iMac for $899.
Apple's last all-in-one educational computer, the eMac, was discontinued in 2006. The eMac, also featured a 17" built-in screen and originally was intended to be sold only to the educational market. However, barely a month after it's release, due to great public interest and demand, Apple also released this "education only" Mac for sale to the general public. The question naturally arises: could history repeat itself? Could Apple be pressured to release the 17" educational iMac to the general public as it did with the eMac? After all, the educational markets are not the only ones who have been hit hard during these trying economic times. A lot of people are just as cash-strapped and are looking for cheaper and additional options other then Apple's high-end offerings. At these lower educational prices, this educational iMac could teach Apple a lesson in pricing, and would seem to be just the ticket that Apple needs to help boost it's recently declining desktop sales.
Of course, the other really big question would be how such a lower priced, lower spec iMac would directly impact the sales of Apple's newly upgraded Mac Mini, who's prices start at $599 and $799 respectively? Both of these starting price points don't include any keyboard, mouse or monitor, so for a lot of people that extra $100 would make the 17" iMac a much better deal. After factoring in the price of a new keyboard and monitor, then you could be looking at paying considerably more for the Mini, unless and, of course, that is you have a spare monitor, mouse and keyboard already laying around the place.
I have to admit, even though a 17" seems rather boring when compared to either the current 20 and 24" iMac models, it's low, low $899 price point seems awfully tempting, and that's especially a lot more so during this bitterly hard recession! I haven't read much about the 17" iMac's specs, other than it having a keyboard and that 17"inch screen, but I would imagine that it spec's would be comparable to that of the Mini's which feature 120 and 320 GB hard drives, integrated graphics and 1 and 2GB or RAM. Those specs are nothing especially exciting, but for your basic daily needs of surfing the net, word-processing, simple games and enjoying music and video, then the 17" inch iMac is probably all that you really need.
Personally, I've still have my heart set on a 24" quad-core i7 iMac, which I was very disappointed didn't make the last upgrade cycle as previously expected. However, there are hints that, after Snow Leopard pounces sometime later this year, I and many others will finally be getting our wish. I hope so anyway, but in the meantime, especially because of the harsh economic realities of today's recession, I'm hoping that Apple will seriously consider doing what it did previously with it's eMac "educational only" computer and offer the 17" educational iMac to the general public at large. That in, my mind ,would not only help replace a lot of the recent decline in Apple's desktop line, but at the same time, it hopefully would also help to increase the Mac's overall market share by making the iMac a lot more palatable to the pocket books of a recession weary public.
And that's my 2 cents 4 this, March 23, 2009
Apple educational marketing image via: AppleInsider
UPDATE: Arstecnica says that the educational model consists of the old white plastic casing and features a 1.83 GHZ Duo Intel chip.