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Long custom iMac order times don't mean that a refresh is imminent

24-inch iMac

A new report pointing out that configure-to-order iMac models have long lead times is firing up speculation that an update is imminent, but as has been the case for five years, there's no real correlation between long lead times and updates.

A report on Friday has taken a look at the availability of Apple Silicon iMacs. The report correctly points out that configure to order iMacs have about a month of lead time before delivery.

Unfortunately, the report by the normally well-informed Macotakara then immediately jumps to conclusions about it, and suggests that a New iMac with a M2 and M2 Pro processor is imminent.

While an iMac refresh before the end of the year may be happening, the conclusion drawn is a case of a maybe-correct conclusion drawn from bad data.

Apple's M1 iMac was released on May 21, 2021, so it has been some time since its introduction. To date, despite a long string of rumors about it, it has not received an M2 update, when everything else in Apple's Mac line has.

However, the inference that a configure-to-order long-lead time points to an imminent refresh is wrong. Lead times of M1 iMacs that sport custom configurations have been similar since November 2022, with lead times sometimes weeks longer than present on nine occasions in the last 11 months.

Every basic configuration is available for immediate shipment or pick-up from Apple retail. And some of the configure-to-order SKUs are available for pick-up from a local Apple Store, with how many available generally proportional to the overall sales volume of the store.

iMac has been a back-to-school computer for some time

Apple hasn't had a fall iMac release since 2014. More recent updates were in June 2017, March 2019, August 2020 for the last Intel iMacs and April 2021 for Apple Silicon. As of late, the iMac has mostly been a "back to school" computer, and not a Christmas season one.

The iMac Pro shipped in December 2017, but was previously announced at the 2017 WWDC.

The rear of the 24-inch iMac.
The rear of the 24-inch iMac.

While Apple could launch an M2 iMac at any time and make logical sense, there are claims that it will instead skip the M2 generation entirely and be one of the earliest M3 devices.

24-inch iMac speculation has been going on for a long time

Rumors of an M2 24-inch iMac go back to February 2022, with speculation that Apple was going to launch a M2 model to match the rest of the range. Over 18 months later, that prediction has failed to come true.

A mere two months later, the rumor shifted to assume that a M3 iMac was on the way. That, obviously, also hasn't happened.

The rumor mill at this point has mostly coalesced around the prediction that M3 processors aren't coming until early 2024.