Earlier this year, I bought a 15-inch MacBook Air. In many ways, it’s the computer I needed at the time — but in the four months I’ve had it, I must confess, it’s not the Mac I wanted.
What I wanted was the bigger 32-inch iMac that’s been rumored for years at this point. I was tempted by the 24-inch M1 iMac when it launched in spring 2021, but I’ve spent years using a 27-inch monitor and didn’t want to downsize on screen real estate. All the reliable Apple prognosticators said the bigger version was in the works. How long could that take?
It is now October 2023, and I’m still waiting. While a refresh of the 24-inch iMac is rumored for Apple’s “Scary Fast” Mac event tonight, I’m not hopeful a bigger version is on the table.
Rumor mills can’t be entirely relied on, but everything we’ve heard about the event points to a spec bump. Same outside, new and improved guts. Macs for folks whose laptops are on their last legs or people with aging Intel-powered MacBooks who might want to hop aboard the Apple Silicon train. And I’m sure that whatever Apple announces today will be great machines capable of handling a wide variety of workloads and needs.
It’s just missing something.
Over the years, my Macs went from being cool gadgets that I was excited to unbox to regular appliances. A Toyota Camry as opposed to a Ferrari. It’s a total 180 to how I felt when I got my very first MacBook Air in 2009 toward the end of college. Up until then, I swore I’d never get a Mac. Sure, bondi blue was a nice color, but the kids sporting the colorful Elle Woods MacBooks were generally art majors or editing YouTube videos and memes. My 17-inch Dell Latitude was perfectly fine for watching movies, playing the occasional Sims game, and writing papers — but it was killing my back lugging it between classes. I finally caved and bought myself a MacBook Air as a preemptive graduation gift after a friend got one and let me play around with it.
It was one of those purchases that immediately changed my life. (I tried, but Windows Vista, 7, and 8 were just not my thing.) It was light, fast, and did everything I needed in a sleek package. My posture dramatically improved.
That’s the thing. Apple products, like the original MacBook Air, were exciting because they did things differently in a way that solved problems in the industry at large. But in a more mature market, when every company has a better handle on what works? The most exciting Apple upgrades these days are when the company stops trying to tell folks what they want and just gives them what they’re asking for. Exciting design and features are a cherry on top.
Case in point — some of the most exciting MacBook Pro upgrades were when Apple finally gave us the friggin’ ports we were asking for. SD Card and HDMI slots! What a revelation! Getting rid of the god-awful butterfly keyboards! Replacing the Touch Bar with regular function keys again! It took Europe’s regulatory bodies to get the iPhone a USB-C port, but folks were jazzed about it nonetheless.
This is genuinely why I want a bigger iMac: it’ll give me what I want. When I need to work on the go, it’s usually for work, and I already have a company-issued M1 MacBook Air. During the pandemic, my at-home computer use shifted to sitting at a more purposeful desk setup. My eyeballs have gotten worse; I need to blow up everything in giant fonts, and 24 inches isn’t going to cut it. I want less clutter on my desk and more ports than a MacBook Air. I’m sure there are tons of creatives (or people like me) who want to replace their old Intel-era 27-inch iMacs without having to downsize.
And that brings me back to where I am right now — reading yet another rumor from June about how a big iMac is in the product pipeline but that I’ll have to wait until 2024–2025 to see one, if I ever see one.
Right now, Mac sales don’t look so hot. Folks went out in droves to buy new computers during the pandemic to meet their work-from-home realities (I’m one of them!), and laptops and all-in-ones aren’t products you frequently replace. But if Apple wants to drive another round of upgrades, the company has a simple solution in front of it. Much like it did when it released the 15-inch MacBook Air earlier this year, it can just do the obvious thing: give people what they want.
While the rumors say a big iMac is unlikely, they could be wrong. Tim Cook could come out dressed like Harry Houdini, waggle his eyebrows, say “one more thing,” and voila, a 27- or 32-inch M3 iMac could magically appear from the ether. If it did, I would buy it, even if I don’t technically need it, and I don’t think I’d be the only one.