Originally Posted by THT
No, not performance gap between the iMac and the MP, but between the iMac and PC competition. The iMac and MP aren't really competing. Apple really only has two choices, well three: go 3.2/3.33 GHz dual-core, go 2.66 GHz quad-core, or radical design for the iMac. The MP will take care of itself as they can put a 2-socket i7 system in it, but the iMac is at a huge performance disadvantage right now to quad PC systems, and it's design advantages isn't enough to make up for it.
Every thing you say above is valid to an extent but for anybody in the Mac fold already the point remains that the gap between the iMac and the Mac Pro just gets wider and wider. The whole point revolves around the fact that hte Mac Pro is an easy upgrade to i7 when the right chip set combinations come out. The feasibility of putting i7 in the iMac is a bigger question and a valid one in many minds. If Apple decides the engineering effort isn't worth it then we will not see the type of performance increase that is really needed to keep any of the iMacs in the mid range area of performance.
Apple's desktop strategy doesn't really offer a "range" per se. It's really a high-end specialty consumer desktop (AIO form factor), a workstation specifically targeted towards audio/video/graphics professionals, and an upsell machine in the form of the Mac mini.
I constantly see the Mini referred to as an upsell machine and frankly don't think that is valid at all. Each time a freshly revved machine comes out it is a good value for the money. It is a machine that many have adopted as their home machine, even a few businesses have been known to standardize around the Mini. If nothing else it has been a stable platform for Apple and the industry types that use it.
If you want to go all Apple, a mini+Apple monitor has a horrible price/performance, and the iMac is basically you're only choice for a desktop. Heck, a Mac mini + 3rd part monitor ain't great, but I digress. It's really 3 specialty computers that Apple has in it's lineup.
Well we could discuss that all day. The point is they are a good value at introduction and remain a stable platform for long periods of time. Many of Apples customers like that!
Is it an ideal machine for the consumer looking for something cheap. Certainly not. It is however a good machine for somebody that wants a bit of quality, flexibility and low cost Apple platform. Not to mention that the Mini can effectively operate with little power which is a quality all on its own.
They don't play the margins game by going with a simple box + monitor, and they always go the route of selling something close in price/perf and make up for the rest in design.
So, Apple is sticking with the iMac AIO design and putting a CPU/GPU in that'll be a little more expensive than the competition, whether it's high GHz dual-core, quad-core, or radical design, who knows. I doubt radical design.
If the xMac happens, I predict the iMac will die. I don't think those two can live in harmony in Apple's budget.
I doubt the iMac will die anytime soon as it suits a particular customer base very well. But it will quickly end up with a performance problem relative to the Mac Pro. Peopel expect the Mac Pro to be fast, that is what they are paying for. What they won't be happy with is a huge gap between the iMac and the Pro when the markets are ful of PC hardware that could easily fill the role of a midrange machine.
This is why I would not be surprised to see at least one iMac with an i7 processor. If not then maybe XMac is coming after all.