27″ of Hurt

Tuesday’s Apple Event unloaded a bunch of new products. A revised iPhone SE, an M1 chip in the iPad Air, a new Mac called the Mac Studio, a 27″ Studio Display, and a new green iPhone 13 / 13 Pro color were all brought to the market. However, there was one thing quite evident with Apple this time around: the Mac is back to being expensive. Really expensive.

For years the argument against Apple has been their Pro line of computers was really not Pro enough. The price and specs did not cater to that audience. Now with the updates made last year and this new Mac Studio, Apple has course-correct. And your wallet is going to feel it.

As a 27″ iMac owner, I have been waiting since the beginning of the M1 transition to replace my aging machine with a similar size, modern device. Yes, this Mac was expensive when I bought it, but I also went all-out with the specs at the time in order to make it last. On Tuesday instead of rolling out this bigger iMac, Apple axed it. The 27″ iMac is gone along with the Intel chip powering it. The Mac Studio + Studio Display takes its place. However, the BASE configuration of both the Mac and the monitor is $3598 and that’s before sales tax.

Now, yes, this machine is insanely powerful. Even the lowest tier brings an M1 Max chip, half a terabyte of storage, and 32 gigabytes of memory. This is nothing to shake a stick at. But $1600 for a display is a leap. This is nothing to say about the M1 Ultra chip announced that day, which is two M1 Max’s fused together. To compare, my iMac from 2013 has an i7, 3 TB drive, 24 gigabytes of memory, and came in nearly a full thousand dollars under this price. That’s a lot.

Do I need this power in the Mac Studio? No. I don’t. Would it be great to have? Absolutely. What Apple has successfully done with their M1 transition is widen the delineation between consumer and professional machines. Normal people will go for the Mac Mini, or iMac on the desktop side while choosing MacBook Air, or 13″ MacBook Pro on the portable side. That Pro is still the one with the TouchBar and has only USB-C ports. Anything more becomes prohibitively more expensive.

The idea of getting pro machines for normal at-home use seems to be over when it comes to Apple. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. It simply means needing to readjust expectations on what we actually need our computers for and spending accordingly. In the end, people will vote with their dollars. I love what Apple released and the Mac Studio I’m sure will fare quite well. But the days of a Mac being a premium product are firmly back.

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