There have been a ton of rumors lately about the iMac, specifically that the next revision will be much thinner than the current model. And on its face, this rumor seems to be plausible -- ever since the introduction of the iMac G5, each successive model of iMac has been thinner than the previous model. However, the current iMac (early 2009) is pretty damn thin, and the rumors say that Apple is trying to achieve a machine that looks like the current 24" LED Cinema Display:
Can Apple cram an entire computer into this form factor? (Photo: Apple)
So, what can Apple do to remove the iMac's "chin", and make the machine smaller and thinner? I can think of 3 possibilities:
Make the LCD thinner - in developing the MacBook Air, Apple had to make the thinnest LCD screen ever. It wasn't just a matter of making the LCD itself thin, but Apple also worked to reduce the size of the supporting circuitry. Apple has since gone on to use this technology on the unibody MacBook Pros. So, it's possible that they could use this on the iMac.
Use a 2.5" Hard Drive - one of the defining characteristics of the iMac is that it uses a standard, 3.5" hard drive. This allows the iMac to 1TB hard drive, at a reasonable price. Presumably, if Apple were to stick with this form factor, they could offer up to 2TB drives in the next revision. However, 2.5" drives are at least 22% smaller in volume, and recent advances have broken through the old 500GB barrier. Unfortunately, the new higher capacity 2.5" drives are more expensive than their 3.5" counter parts, and operate a lower speed. So Apple would be sacrificing cost-effectiveness and performance if they went this route.
Use an external power supply- another hallmark of all iMacs has been the internal power supply. This means that all you need is a standard power cable — there is no bulky power brick laying around. However, in order to achieve its diminutive size, the Mac mini has an external power brick. Apple could actually save a lot of internal space by switching to a power brick, so if they are serious about going thin, then I think this is pretty likely.
While I think that option #2 isn't so hot, the other two options are strong candidates for making a thinner iMac. So I think that this rumor, which seems plausible on its face, might have a solid chance of becoming reality. Of course, I'm not so sure why Apple is so obsessed with thin-ness of a desktop machine — I mean, who really chooses a desktop computer based upon how thin it is?
Nevertheless, we should know what Apple is up to with the iMac in a few weeks.