Apple introduces new Mac desktop computers

Apple has refreshed its line of Mac desktop computers, adding stronger capabilities and nudging some prices lower as consumer spending feels the pinch of the recession.

Apple introduced on Tuesday new models of its iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro desktops, following a refresh of its MacBook notebook PCs last year.



The new line includes a flagship 24-inch iMac with twice the memory size and twice the storage of the previous generation 20-inch iMac, priced at £1,199. It also includes a 20-inch PC and two new 24-inch iMacs.



Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner said the new desktop PCs did not break new ground on form or aesthetics, but the new iMacs offered much more bang for the buck.



"Nothing earth-shattering here but in a time when price and value are of increasing significance the refresh definitely puts Apple at the head of that comparison," he said.



Calyon Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said the new desktops should be able to contribute meaningfully to Apple's March quarter, but he wondered whether their price points are still too high.



"They increased the performance but didn't lower the price. I question whether that is the right business move in today's environment where I think customers want lower prices," he said.



Sales of Apple's desktops, like those of competitors such as Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc, have been declining as consumers shift to notebooks.



Apple's desktop shipments fell 25 percent in the December quarter as notebooks rose 34 percent. Desktop revenue made up less a third of all Mac revenue in the quarter.



The picture for desktops is only expected to become grimmer. Research group Gartner expects global desktop sales to fall 32 percent in 2009, even as notebooks rise 2.7 percent.



Apple also introduced a new Mac Pro desktop PC aimed at business users. The new Mac Pro starts at £1899.



In addition, the company unveiled two new Mac Mini desktops, measuring 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches by 2 inches, with an entry-level price of £499. The Mac mini also now features an Nvidia graphics processor, and the chip maker said its GPUs are now available in all Mac computers, both desktops and notebooks.



Oppenheimer's Reiner noted that Apple's press release was something of a "non-event" compared to some of the company's other product launches that have been among the most eagerly anticipated events in the technology world.



When Apple refreshed its line of Macbook notebooks in October, Chief Executive Steve Jobs -- currently on medical leave until June -- introduced the new PCs with his typical showmanship at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California.



Calyon's Seyrafi did not see Apple's somewhat low-key announcement as significant, noting that desktops are simply not as important as notebooks these days.



Shares of Apple were up 1.7 percent to $89.41 in afternoon trading on Nasdaq.

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