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Poor bets placed on new iMacs at Apple's developer conference

Despite a growing number of reports to the contrary, it's highly unlikely that Apple will use its developer conference next week to showcase a line of redesigned iMac desktop computers, AppleInsider has learned.

People familiar with the matter say an extensive overhaul to the top-selling Apple consumer desktop machines remains on track for an unveiling later this year, adding that an introduction during company's Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday would be premature and serve only to disrupt sales of existing models.

"There's no compelling rationale for [Apple] to pre-announce new iMacs months in advance of availability," said another contact familiar with Cupertino-based Mac maker's consumer product strategy. "The current iMacs appear to have some life left in them."

Instead, Apple is expected to use its annual developer gathering to zero-in on "Top Secret" enhancements to its next-generation Mac OS X Leopard operating system that have been lingering beneath the surface of pre-release builds since the software was first previewed at last year's conference.

Those in attendance will walk away from chief executive Steve Jobs' inaugural keynote address with the first pre-release software builds of a "feature complete" Leopard, Apple has promised.

Should there be truth a recent report by the New York Times, Jobs may also use the event to brief Mac OS X developers on the company's plans to allow third-party application development for the upcoming iPhone device.

As was reported exclusively by AppleInsider back in March, Apple engineers have been putting extra hours into a pair of radically redesigned 20- and 24-inch iMacs that will be both slimmer and sleeker than today's offerings. When the project reaches fruition later this year, it will represent the first major industrial design overhaul to hit the flagship all-in-one consumer Apple desktops in nearly three years.

Omitted from the makeover will be Apple's 17-inch iMac model, people familiar with the project have said. The entry-level offering will reportedly become the subject of considerable neglect, and may eventually meet the same fate as the firm's now defunct 12-inch PowerBook and soon-to-be sacrificed Mac mini.

Apple's current line of iMac personal computers includes 17-, 20- and 24-inch models.

Unlike a supply-chain pattern (1, 2) that manifested in the weeks and days leading up to Tuesday's MacBook Pro revamp, checks into the availability and channel flow of existing iMac models revealed no disruptions and normal availability. Additionally, high-volume dealers are expecting an uninterrupted stream of iMac shipments for the foreseeable future.

Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference will kick off with Jobs' keynote address beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, June 11, 2007 at San Francisco’s Moscone West convention center.