Apple has updated its iMac computers with a slimmer design, faster chips and glossy screens, hoping to further propel sales that already outpace the rest of the PC industry.
The all-in-one desktop computers now have aluminum casings, replacing the white plastic facade that has defined the computer lineup for years. Apple also eliminated a 17-inch display option, and will have only 20-inch and 24-inch versions.
Priced at $A1698 and $A2599, respectively, the computers are also $300 to $400 cheaper than their predecessors.
Analysts have been anticipating an iMac revamp for some time from the trendsetting company. Apple last introduced a new iMac in September 2006 when it debuted the large 24-inch model.
The success of the iPod, Apple's retail stores and the company's switch to Intel-based computer chips have all helped propel the Macintosh maker's computer sales and profits to record levels. In recent quarters, Apple's sales have been growing three times faster than the rest of the PC industry.
"The iMac has been very successful for us and we want to make it even better," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in announcing the new products. "We've managed to make it even thinner than before.''
"Apple has grown two to three times the market for the past several quarters,'' said analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research. "This product launch should position them well for the back-to-school and holiday seasons.''
Apple recently launched the iPhone mobile device in a bid to build a third major product line alongside its Macintosh computers and iPod media players, but desktop and laptop sales still account for the bulk of its revenue.
In its third quarter, Apple sold 634,000 desktops for revenue of $US956 million, accounting for about 18 percent of total revenue.
Apple laptop sales totaled $US1.58 billion in its most recently reported quarter. The MacBook laptop line was not affected by Tuesday's announcement.
Sales of Macintosh computers have grown faster than the overall PC market, but Apple's share of the market by unit sales is estimated to be less than 5 per cent.
Apple has also used the iPod and, now, the iPhone as "halo'' products to draw customers into stores and get them interested in its computers.
Jobs also said that the company was adding a software "button'' to the iPhone that allows users to upload photos taken with the built-in camera on the iPhone to Apple's .Mac online data and web-hosting service.
Hoping that until this time, it's sleeker, it's faster, and it's glossier....