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Tim Cook admits he wishes Apple had held launch of new iMac until 2013

In a rare public admission of hindsight, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday that he wishes his company had waited until 2013 to launch its redesigned iMac, which remained in short supply through the end of 2012.

Speaking with investors and analysts during his company's quarterly earnings conference call, Cook said he doesn't spend a lot of time looking back "except to learn." But in response to a question from Mark Moskowitz of J.P. Morgan, Cook admitted that Apple may have pushed to launch its new iMac too soon at the end of 2012.

"We felt our customers had to wait too long," he admitted.

While the iPad mini was in short supply throughout the December quarter, Apple was still able to ship the 7.9-inch tablet to millions of customers. The same could not be said for the all-in-one iMac, which was given a major redesign with a thinner profile.

"In retrospect, yes, I sort of wish we had done it after the turn of the year," Cook said. "Customers wouldn't have had to have waited as long as they did."

The new iMac was plagued with production issues when the desktop went on sale in December. It was reported that those issues came from a unique screen lamination process Apple has employed in its new design, allowing the desktop to sport a much thinner profile than its predecessor.

In the December quarter, Mac sales were off 17 percent year over year to 4.1 million — a loss that Apple attributed mostly to a lack of availability of the new iMac. This quarter, with iMac availability vastly improved, and sales were about flat year over year at just under 4 million.