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New All-in-One Mac for Education?

AppleInsider reports that Apple is working on a new all-in-one Mac for education, to replace the phased-out eMac, and that Apple is targeting release in the "September timeframe" 2006. If so, Apple would catch only the tail end of the purchase cycle for the school year beginning this Fall, since many educational institutions, faculty, and students are already planning their next purchases.

The upcoming model is said to have a design similar to the current iMac, with a single enclosure, LCD screen, and Intel processor. It is not clear whether it will simply be a lower-end iMac or be a distinct model line. Apple's challenge will be to keep the price down, despite the switch to LCD displays, because of the competitive pressures in the education market.

The CRT-based eMac has had its share of ups and downs over the years. Introduced in April 2002, the eMac was first sold only to education customers, but Apple soon added the eMac to its consumer line by popular demand. In efforts to keep the eMac up to date, Apple gave the eMac occasional price drops and speed bumps as demand waned, and rumors of the eMac's demise have circulated since as long ago as March 2004. The eMac line received a quiet update in May 2005. In October 2005, Apple dropped the eMac from its retail line and let inventory run down in the education channel.