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Apple has confirmed it will be working to produce new models in its iMac line this year that would target the "pro" user market, giving an earlier upgrade option ahead of the company's anticipated release of new Mac Pro models in 2018. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook previously teased there were updates on the way in December 2016, countering rumors of the desktop Mac's demise. "Let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap," said Cook. "Nobody should worry about that." 

In an interview at Apple's headquarters in April, marketing head Phil Schiller and software engineering SVP Craig Federighi confirmed work is being carried out to prepare the new higher-specification iMacs, with configurations specifically included with the pro-consumer in mind, as well as professional users. 

Federighi suggested the iMac's current form factor has the potential to address even more of professional user base, and that Apple could take iMac even further as a high-performance pro system. 

Apple's research revealed approximately 30 percent of the entire Mac user base use pro apps at least once per week, for media creation and software development tasks. The same research also found that, within this group, the iMac outpaces the Mac Pro in terms of desktop sales, indicating there to be more of a professional market for iMacs than previously thought.

During an earnings conference call in May, Apple CEO Tim Cook told listeners "Our Mac business has generated over $25 billion in revenue over the past four quarters. We're investing aggressively in its future and we are very excited about the innovation we can bring to the platform."

Though not directly mentioning the upgraded iMacs, it is likely this investment retoric is a reference to Apple's work on the product line, as well as the new Mac Pro. 

 

No Touchscreens

While Apple did not advise on specifications that will arrive in the future professional-level iMacs during the April interview, it did confirm the computers won't have touchscreen capabilities "Touch doesn't even register on the list of things pro users are interested in talking about," said Schiller. "They're interested in things like performance and storage and expandability." 

Apple has traditionally resisted adding touchscreen capabilities to its Mac products, though it did take a small step in that direction with the inclusion of the Touch Bar in the MacBook Pro.

The company seems to lack any interest at all in following other vendors in the market adding touch to their displays, a feature more commonly seen in "2-in-1" notebooks that can act as tablets. On desktops, the Surface Studio all-in-one from Microsoft had some success providing touch capabilities in its display, though it is considered to be an expensive purchase for most potential users. 

 

Server-Grade

Supply chain data from DigiTimes in mid-April suggests there to be two new iMac models on the way, scheduled for the second half of 2017. Said to be 21.5-inch and 27-inch models, it is claimed these two systems will include "server grade" processors, including the Intel Xeon E3-1285. 

The systems will apparently include between 16GB and 64GB of ECC RAM, up to 2TB of NVMe SSE storage, and the "latest" (unidentified) discrete GPU for graphics. 

It is claimed Quanta Computer is building the units on Apple's behalf. Quanta has assembled iMacs for Apple for a number of years, but it has also stretched to other products from the company, including the Apple Watch.

 

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