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Through its indirect channel of trusted resellers, Apple has become increasingly aggressive on Mac pricing in 2014, offering discounts that go well beyond historical trends. That continues with big savings on the company's new iMac released just last week — a pattern that suggests the company is actively experimenting with lower price points across multiple product families.
Apple's 1.4GHz 21-inch iMac was introduced at new entry-level price point of $1,099 just six days ago. But as of Tuesday morning, AppleInsider's Price Guides revealed the company appears to have authorized a $120 price cut through Best Buy, where it's now on sale for just $979.99. B&H Photo, another long-time Apple reseller that adds additional tax savings, similarly cut its price to $978.99 on the heels of Best Buy's move.
Students can knock an additional $150 off the discounted iMac price at Best Buy with a special coupon (by supplying a valid .EDU email), bringing the cost of the all-in-one desktop to just $829.99. Discounts of $120 are also available on other 21.5- and 27-inch iMac models, and the sale is advertised to last for 24 hours.
These unprecedentedly swift discounts from authorized Apple resellers follow weeks' worth of uncharacteristically steep discounts on the company's MacBook Air lineup, which also saw a refresh just weeks ago.
The fact that lower prices on new Macs are arriving so quickly would suggest that Apple itself may be sanctioning the discounts. It's possible that the company is looking to help push inventory as it deals with a dearth of new chip options from its CPU partner Intel.
Intel's next-generation Broadwell chips aren't slated to begin arriving until later this year, leaving Apple in a difficult spot where it can't significantly boost the speed or battery life of its Macs. As a result, Apple has instead focused on more affordable options with its Mac hardware refreshes thus far.
In addition to the new $1,099 iMac, Apple also slashed $100 off its suggested pricing for new MacBook Airs that debuted in April to a new entry price of $899, making them the most affordable mass-market notebooks the company has ever sold.
Resellers have of course further undercut those prices, but major partners like Best Buy are likely doing so with the blessing of Apple, which does not itself offer regular discounts or promotional pricing. Instead, the company opts for more unconventional approaches to drive sales — methods that allow it to maintain its strict pricing at fixed levels while moving inventory surplus through the aid of indirect and sometimes unaffiliated channels.
Another approach employed by Apple was discovered by AppleInsider last year, when the Mac maker began selling hardware through a "secret" eBay store. The somewhat unofficial store has since closed, but at the time it offered refurbished MacBooks for up to $100 less than Apple would sell them direct to customers through its own online store.
Since last year, Apple has also been more conservative with its Mac inventory, keeping the amount of hardware in the channel at lower levels to avoid a potential oversupply. This was reflected by Apple reducing its channel inventory by a whopping $1 billion in the company's June 2013 fiscal quarter.
Update: this offer has since expired from Best Buy but remains available from B&H. Readers hunting for the latest daily deals can keep an eye on deals.appleinsider.com for exceptional offers or find the lowest price on a specific Apple product every day in our live Price Guides at prices.appleinsider.com.