While the release of Microsoft's Vista earlier this month is said to be seriously challenging Apple on its recent PC market share catch-up, tipsters well placed at Apple informed MacScoop that the company is preparing to make the fight harder for its competitors of the Windows world with several Mac hardware releases scheduled for calendar Q2.
Possibly all line-ups updated by end of June?
Sources told MacScoop there is strong possibility that most or all the Mac line-ups will see a refresh by the end of June and that the company should start making its first 2007 Mac hardware announcements as soon as during March.
The three line-ups that have seen the longest product cycles are Xserves (August 2006), Mac Pros (August 2006) and Mac minis (September 2006). With no word from sources on specific Apple hardware refreshes, we can only speculate that these three line-ups will be prioritized.
Black iMac on the way?
The only specific information MacScoop has recently obtained from sources regarding Apple's forthcoming hardware releases is that a black version of the iMac could make its way with the next update of the company's all-in-one consumer desktop Macs.
How the black iMac might look
Sources also told us that - as it is currently the case for the MacBook - the black color could be available only on the high-end 24 inch iMac and possibly the 20 inch as well.
Apple has started making black-flavored products since the introduction of the first generation iPod nano on September 2005, followed by a black video-enabled iPod in October 2005. A few months later, after the huge success of this flavor on the iPod, the company introduced the MacBook (May 2006) which was available in black for the top of the line model. The black MacBook also received very good market acceptance although it was initially criticized for its unfairly high pricing.
Recent hardware rumours roundup:
Previous reports published on MacScoop as well as on other sites provided some early hints on what could be in Apple's product pipeline for 2007.
Mac Pros are said to be ready for the 8-Core jump in their next update while the MacBook Pro line-up could be broaden with a smaller form factor. Other rumours on the Internet suggest that the MacBook will come in a 15 inch version for low-budget big-screen laptop fans.
Meanwhile, Apple Cinema Displays have not seen any major update since June 2004. The company's display line-up was only subject of price-cuts and minor spec changes. Some MacScoop sources recently hinted at new sizes on the product line and believe Apple could introduce HDMI/HDCP capable displays with built-in iSight.
Hardware announcements in time for Leopard and Creative Suite 3 releases?
The coming months will be subject to major software releases for the Mac world both from Apple and third-party software developers.
A recent report claimed that Apple could release Mac OS X Leopard as soon as late March and we expect the company to release iLife '07 and iWork '07 at the same time.
Moreover, a Merill Lynch analyst recently said that Creative Suite 3.0, which is the first Intel native version of Adobe's professional creation software suite, could arrive in the same "late March" timeframe.
Other developers such as Microsoft are expected to deliver Intel-native versions of their software this year. At the end of 2007 the transition to the Intel architecture will be 100% complete.
One can expect both consumer and Pro-oriented hardware updates to coincide with the releases of Leopard and Creative Suite. But again, there is no word from our sources yet on that.