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Apple hardware sector slows as several product lines await refreshes

On the heels of expected product line refreshes from Apple Computer, a recent analysis of the company\'s retail channels revealed a slow-down in the hardware sector, with several products showing signs they\'ll soon be replaced with newer models.

iMacs and eMacs

According to the data, which is based on flow thru and orders to Apple, both the iMac G5 and eMac G4 are showing a trend that is seen when a product is about to be replaced or refreshed.

As previously reported, Apple is expected to bump its iMac offerings to from 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz with 256MB of RAM to 1.8GHz and 2.0GHz. All models are expected to boast 512MB of RAM. Meanwhile, new eMacs are also due, with expectations pointing to only marginal increases in specs. The eMac enclosure will reportedly remain the same.

Power Macs and iBooks

Also following a similar trend to the iMac and eMac are Apple\'s iBook G4 and Power Mac G5 product lines. In the case of Power Macs, data shows supply to be well ahead of demand, while iBooks have reached a supply/demand equilibrium.

Sources last month said iBook updates were near complete, but like the eMacs they\'ll only see slight improvements in specs. iBooks are expected to gain improved video cards, 512MB of standard RAM and a 1.33GHz processor on the low-end of the product line. iBooks will likely top out at either 1.42GHz or 1.5GHz, sources said, with manufacturing being handled by Asustek.

Likewise, a ThinkSecret report puts Power Mac revisions at 2.0GHz, 2.3GHz, and 2.7GHz with 512MB of standard RAM and either a 128MB ATI Radeon 9600 or 256MB ATI Radeon 9650 video card. Sources said Apple recently performed a test production run of new Power Macs at Foxconn\'s manufacturing facilities in China.


Interestingly, the data analysis obtained by AppleInsider shows that Apple\'s Cinema Display product line is also following a trend that is usually seen prior to updates. However, there has yet to be any reliable information to suggest new display models are on the way, and insiders speculate that consumers may be holding out on display purchases until new Power Macs are introduced.

Mac mini

Sources tell AppleInsider that Apple is planning to introduce new Macs next Tuesday the 26th of April. At some point, sources say the Mac mini will also see a revision that includes 512MB of RAM. Unlike the aforementioned Apple desktop Macs, the Mac mini continues to see significant demand, though even it has slowed recently.

Flagship iPods

Shedding light on Apple\'s music-related hardware offerings, data shows both of Apple\'s iPod photo models to be in ample supply, with supply of the 20GB monochrome display iPod nearly inline with demand. The U2 Special Edition iPod remains on backorder, though wait times are declining.

iPod mini

Focusing on Apple\'s new 6GB iPod mini, data shows demand for the players to be staggered but approaching a balance. Of the four models Apple offers, only the silver model is considered to be in short supply. The pink model is the second favorite amongst consumers, while blue and green units trail, currently at a supply/demand balance.

iPod shuffle

Of course then there is Apple\'s flash-based iPod shuffle, which to the surprise of insiders is expected to meet a complete supply/demand balance within the next several days —data indicates that inventory of both the 512MB and 1GB models will be available to retailers and resellers on a \"need it now\" basis.

What remains largely uncertain is whether Apple will announce all of its CPU-based product revisions on a single day, or if it will spread the announcements slightly. There are also rumors that iBooks could see some form of price cuts in May, but its unclear if this pertains to new or dated models.