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Apple finally ready to launch LCD iMac – analysts

Massive flat-panel order is the proof, says Morgan Stanley

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Apple will finally announce its long-awaited iMac 2, based around an LCD screen, at Macworld Expo San Francisco next month, according to a Morgan Stanley analyst report.

The report claims Apple has ordered 100,000 15in LCDs for January and will receive the same volume each month going forward from that date. The report's authors believe the displays are destined for new iMacs.

And about time too. The current iMac may contain more memory, a larger hard drive, a faster processor and better connectivity than the machine Steve Jobs unveiled in May 1998, but apart from some cosmetic changes, the modern machine is identical to its forebear. It's time, say many observers, for a change and have urged Apple to redesign and revitalise the consumer computer.

A flat-panel iMac has been the subject of rumours almost as long as the computer has been shipping.

Sources claiming to be Apple insiders said earlier this year that Apple would launch the LCD iMac so at Macworld Expo New York, held last July, but in the event, the company held back and simply announced faster versions of the original machine. Whether it was to stop the new machine stealing its redesigned iBook's thunder or because Apple felt that the consumer market wasn't yet ready for the new machine isn't known. If, as claimed, the machine is intended to show off Mac OS X as a consumer operating system, Apple may well have wanted to hold back until it had 10.1 out the door.

Or perhaps the company was unwilling to risk releasing what might become a second Cube until it was sure of a positive reaction. It certainly can't afford another such blunder.

Last summers rumours coincided with a comment from the head of AlphaTop, the company that makes Apple's iBook and PowerBook portables, that Apple had said it planned to make a version of the iBook with a bigger screen and multi-coloured cases. Apple quickly denied the claim, clearly wanting to avoid any impediments to sales of the recently launched consumer-oriented notebook. However, we suspect that the comment was actually a reference to new, LCD-based iMacs which, internally, are likely to be little different to the iBook. ®

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