iMac 2010I saw it coming years ago when Apple released the iPod Touch. Since that fateful day in September of 2007, it seemed like Apple tossed the desktop computer to the curb like a red-headed stepchild.

Every once in a while, they updated the desktop lines, but with the exception of a really nice iMac update (to what we have today), there’s been little to get excited about outside the laptop and mobile lines.

Now before you say “oh no, not another ‘Apple is killing the desktop’ article,” let me just say that this isn’t. Only an idiot would make the assumption, observation or claim that Apple is going to give up billions of dollars in sales – especially when their new love affair with mobile hardware requires a Mac to be useful.

Apple product sales don’t lie. The Mac is a shrinking revenue stream for Apple, see the graphic below. It illustrates where Apple is making their money, and focusing their efforts.

Apple’s bread is buttered with iPhone and laptop sales. Hell, the iPad is netting Apple nearly as much as the Mac desktop line. And I suspect that a high portion of those desktop sales are iMacs, not MacPros.

Apple product sales figures

Apple major product sales figures

While I doubt Apple is going to abandon the Mac any time soon, I think it’s worth thinking twice before buying a new MacPro. Of course some users will require the absolute most expansion and power they can get, but the vast majority of users (including print and web designers) can easily get away with an iMac.

Take my situation for example.

I purchased a 1st generation MacPro. At the time, I had a really nice 20″ LCD, expensive keyboard and mouse, a scanner, printer, speakers, and needed the RAM and hard drive slots for expansion. Plus, at the time the iMac was less than optimal for working on 500+ MB Photoshop files. I really had no choice but to get the MacPro.

Over the years, I upgraded to a all-in-one printer/scanner, and hard drives are much larger and cheaper, and RAM is still at an all-time low price. About two years ago, I upgraded to a Dell 30″ LCD screen which cost me about $1,000. It’s a fantastic monitor. But I still have that same original MacPro, and it’s getting long in the tooth. Don’t get me wrong, it handles everything I do with no problem.

But now my upgrade option is limited to another MacPro if I really want to get my money’s worth out of that 30″ LCD. What I would really would like to do is upgrade to a 27″ iMac. It would probably be a speed improvement (though not a whole lot), and would save a ton of space in my home office.

Buying another MacPro is out of the question for me. The shrinking need for the power and expansion of a MacPro, and Apple’s lack of focus on the desktop in general doesn’t instill a whole lot of faith in it for me to spend that kind of money again. I think the iMac still has legs – probably another ten years or so. But I suspect the MacPro will end up being Apple’s new server product soon. Oh wait, that just happened.

If you’re in the market for a new Mac and you’re the type who keeps a computer for several years, I highly recommend you take a look at the 27″ iMac. You’re going to save a minimum of $500 right off the bat, and you won’t be tied to a computer model due to an existing expense like a large LCD screen. When it’s time to upgrade, you’ll have the advantage of not having legacy hardware to worry about.

On the other hand, if you already have an LCD screen that’s a few years old and you tend to upgrade your hardware every two to three years, go for the big bad MacPro. Either way, the Mac isn’t going anywhere – at least not any time soon.