Rumor Has It: New iMacs and MacBooks Coming Just in Time for Windows 7

imac_macbookApple beat Microsoft to market in terms of new operating systems (although “new” doesn’t really apply in the case of either 10.6 or Windows 7), but that means Microsoft will have the spotlight uncontested when it launches Windows 7 on Oct. 22. That’s why one research firm, Wedge Partners, is predicting new MacBook and iMac hardware in the coming weeks.

A significant hardware upgrade on Apple’s core lineup of iMac desktops and the lone MacBook notebook would indeed go a long way towards stealing the wind from Microsoft’s sails. Especially if it prices the new models lower, as the same research firm suggests it may.

Normally, I don’t have much patience for the ramblings of those soothsayers in the so-called “analyst” line of work, but this report struck a chord with something I heard earlier in the month, which alone wasn’t substantial enough to write up. A source who works for Apple told me at the beginning of September that new iMacs were definitely on the horizon, and that retail management was being prepared for a major launch of the updated computers.

No mention was made of the MacBook, but it, like the iMacs, are definitely due for a refresh, and, as Wedge Partners predicts, a visual design change as well. The aluminum and glass iMac design has been in play since August of 2007, and the white plastic MacBook case goes back to May 2006. The specific design predictions made by Wedge partners stand little chance of being accurate, but a new look would definitely be in order. Expect Apple to leverage its unibody construction method for both, since it represents significant investment on its part.

The iMac is also well behind its PC counterparts in terms of internal specs, so the prediction that it could see the introduction of Core i5 or i7 processors is probably not too far off base. We may also see Apple’s first move away from NVIDIA’s GeForce 9400M as the fallout from GPU-gate continues. Expect any internal hardware changes to specifically compliment user experience with the new Snow Leopard operating system.

While some point to the significance of the recent iPod event as evidence that Apple would not make another major announcement so closely on its heels, it was only last year that Apple’s “Let’s Rock” iPod and music special event in September was followed immediately in October with its major notebook event, at which it introduced the new unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro design. Clearly, it’s historically possible, and Apple has seen the financial sense it makes in the sales numbers it recorded last holiday season.

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