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Why Apple Needs to Refresh Its Mac Line

Is it just me or are things getting a little boring at Apple?

The company that once led the way with everything it did is now lagging a little. It's true that the company's products are still some of the most desired in the space. They're also sleek and sexy. But whether or not they're really as far ahead aesthetically as they once were is up for debate.

Just last week, HP announced notebooks that look quite similar to the MacBook. When I saw it, I was a little shocked that HP would go to that length to try to mimic Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) design. But after thinking about it clearly for a while, it makes sense. HP has been able to catch up to Apple on design. A few years ago that wasn't possible. Nowadays, it is.

That's precisely why it's time for Apple to refresh its product line. The company's current lineup of Macs are getting stale. They offer the same aluminum finish. They have the same black bezel. And they have nice displays. Although that's nice to see, I think it's clear that some of the tweaks Apple has used to transform its products are in order once more.

But exactly what Apple should do with its Macs is tough to say. At this point, the company's designs are still sleek. They still offer some of the most compelling features, like that aluminum, that makes it difficult for the company to revolutionize the design of its products. It's even harder when it comes to notebooks, which provide a relatively limited amount of design chances to change things up.

But if any company can get it done, it's Apple. Apple has proven time and again that it has the ability to revolutionize computer design. That's a special ability that its competitors don't have. And it's something that Apple can capitalize on.

I think the first place Apple needs to start is with the iMac. For too long, the product has featured the same basic design. It has the aluminum finish, a black bezel, and a compact footprint. It's nice. But it's old. And the problem with the iMac is that products from HP (NYSE: HPQ) provide a similarly sleek design. In fact, it's arguable that HP's all-in-ones look nicer.

On the notebook side, changing things up will be more difficult. The aluminum design accented with the black features is nice, for sure, but it is dull. I think Apple needs to throw some more color into it. The keyboard should be nicer. The screen should be more vibrant. And the shell of the notebook should feature more than a simple Apple logo.

Granted, Apple design is supposed to be sleek and sophisticated. I get that. But a quick glance at current designs makes me think that they're getting a little old. They're starting to become boring. We need something new, Apple. And we need it now.

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist whose work has included popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move on Twitter at @donreisinger.