The smaller iMac will be sold only to schools, which are being squeezed by state budget cuts caused by the economic downturn.
Apple, which recently refreshed its iMac line, has brought back the 17-inch model, but only for schools.
In its eNews for Education newsletter, Apple says its smallest iMac is available for $899. Apple had pretty much left the 17-inch model behind in an iMac overhaul in the summer of 2007, according toPC World.
While highlighting the new 20-inch and 24-inch iMac line, the newsletter also mentions the smaller model's return. "The iMac line also includes a 17-inch model starting at $899." Specs were not available.
Apple also is offering buyers for schools a white paper on the Obama administration's 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which makes federal funds available for the use of technology in education-related programs.
Apple made no mention of the 17-inch iMac in its product refresh this month. The latest line of the all-in-one desktops includes faster processors and better graphics than previous generations. Apple also gave consumers more for their money. For example, a new 24-inch iMac with a 2.66-GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB of DDR3 memory, a 640-GB hard drive, and an Nvidia GeForce 9400M integrated graphics processor is priced at $1,499, which is the same as one of the older 20-inch iMacs.
Apple did not give a reason for reintroducing the 17-inch iMac only to schools, but analysts have said that Apple's prices, which are higher than Windows PCs, could hurt sales in schools getting squeezed harder as a result of state budget cuts brought on by the economic downturn.
Indeed, Mac sales at U.S. retailers fell for the second consecutive month in February, according to the NPD Group. While unit sales of Windows PCs rose, Macs, including desktops and notebooks, fell 16% from the same month a year ago.
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