Declining Inventories Point to New Macs

Apple seems to have confirmed recent speculation there would be new Macs by informing its direct sales channels that several of its desktop offerings have entered a “period of constraint,” meaning they are in short supply, and there’s only one good reason for that.

Unless Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has managed its inventory very poorly, which would be unheard of these days, there is likely to be a major update to the Macintosh desktop line very soon.

AppleInsider reported that Apple Retail on Monday issued an advisory to its Stateside brick-and-mortar shops that further orders for many existing desktop SKUs would not be fulfilled. This covers all four of the all-in-one iMac line and the low-end $599 Mac Mini.

This would be a very quick update, as Apple refreshed those products just this past March. However, there is still room for improvement.

For starters, none of the iMacs use quad-core Intel processors; they are all dual-core. With the Core i7 out, Apple may also want to move to higher-performing, lower power DDR3 memory. Also, the MacBook Pro line supports SD Cards while the iMac does not.

The retail hints are inconclusive. Apple’s online store claims to have all of the Macs in stock. Best Buy online says the Mac Mini is backordered but iMacs are available, and Amazon has some, but not many: its inventory of iMacs is down to single digits.

Calls to Apple for comment were not returned.

Ben Bajarin, analyst for Creative Strategies, figures it’s more speeds and feeds and Apple trying not to be completely skinned by Windows 7.

“There’s been a pretty significant jump in processors that were available in March and what’s available now,” he told “I don’t know if that makes a gigantic difference on their platform, but obviously they are looking to stay in the public eye.”

Bajarin wouldn’t be surprised if they refresh both the notebooks and desktops, particularly around new Intel processors and nVidia graphics. Besides new chips, there’s the Windows 7 monster and a constant stream of hardware announcements from OEMs promising October 22 launches.

“The Windows camp is launching powerful all-in-one systems or desktops and notebooks that they have to counter, and the Windows 7 hype will be pretty significant,” he said.

And just as PC vendors will do October 22, Apple can also ship systems with, well, at least a practically brand new version of its operating system, namely the recently released Snow Leopard update of the Mac OS.

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