Glitch in Apple’s Online Store Let People Order Vintage 17-inch iMacs

iMac 2006 Credit: Catalarem / Wikimedia Commons
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Several Apple customers made an interesting discovery over the weekend when they found that not only had a thirteen-year-old iMac reappeared on Apple’s online store, but that they were in fact actually able to place orders for the vintage 17-inch model.

A pair of tweets that appear to have been shared independently by Gregory McFadden and Michael Kukielka Pro both revealed that they were able to place orders for an “iMac 17-inch 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo” priced at $999 and $1,099, although it’s unclear from the screenshots they shared what would have accounted for the price difference, although some tweets suggested that the price actually dropped for later orders.

To put this in perspective, the 17-inch iMac in question was a first-generation iMac last made by Apple in late 2006, featuring a 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo “Merom” CPU, a 17-inch 1440 x 900 display, and a white polycarbonate casing, rather than the more traditional aluminum that Apple began using for its 20+ inch iMacs starting in 2007.

Other bleeding edge specs included a 160 GB hard drive and 512 MB of RAM in the standard configuration.

Conversation threads on Twitter revealed that quite a few users actually decided to try and order the vintage iMac, and while it’s surprising that so many would be willing to drop $1,000 for such an old system, it’s likely that many were just curious to see whether Apple would actually ship it.

Not surprisingly, Apple cancelled these orders within a few hours, with boilerplate messages from customer service reps explaining that the order “cannot be entered into our order system,” and suggesting that customers call Apple or revisit the Apple Online Store to re-place their orders.

Of course, the 17-inch iMac has since disappeared from Apple’s online store pages, and links shared on Twitter result in a message advising that the product is “no longer available on apple.com” offering “similar products” in the form of refurbished iMacs.

Why Did This Happen?

On the surface, it seems like this was just a glitch in Apple’s online store that caused an old product to be marked as available for sale. Apple’s internal store database likely still contains every product that they’ve ever sold, with older ones simply marked as unavailable or discontinued to prevent them from appearing on the actual live store pages. With that in mind, it’s easy to see how somebody may have accidentally updated the wrong item in the Apple Store database, making it appear for sale on Apple’s online store.

As an aside, the sudden appearance of this vintage iMac also lends more evidence to the fact that Apple doesn’t really need to take down its digital storefront before every Apple event. It’s long been fairly obvious to most people that this is done for marketing purposes in order to build hype for new products, but in case anybody had any doubts, this older iMac appeared for sale without any downtime on the Apple Store.

However, this has also led to speculation that Apple may be preparing to refresh its iMac lineup. Apple’s standard iMacs both got a minor refresh to the latest Intel CPUs last March, and we’ve had lots of indications lately that Apple is putting more effort into keeping its Mac lineup current. The iMac has been on a two-year update cycle since 2015, but with Apple updating its MacBooks at least once a year, if not more often, it stands to reason that its iMacs would get a similar treatment.

While this was still most likely nothing more than a glitch, it’s possible that an Apple employee entering new iMac models simply updated or copied a wrong entry by mistake.

It’s noteworthy that the delivery dates were listed as mid-February, which could point to coming iMac updates around that timeframe, but this could also simply be a default in Apple’s systems for products that are out of stock. Even if this does hint at an iMac update, it’s still hard to infer exactly what form such an update could take, but despite the references to a 17-inch iMac, it will most likely be little more than a simple refresh of the lineup to add current CPU and GPU specs.

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