By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
September 29, 2009

It’s 4 a.m. and the Apple Store has disappeared. Could this be the day the new iMacs appear?

[UPDATE: False alarm. By 4:45 a.m., the store was back online. Reader Pierre in Montreal spotted a new version of FileMaker’s Bento, which appeared to be the only change.]

Talk that Apple (AAPL) was preparing to refresh its best-selling desktop computer line has been building forĀ  months, and on Thursday AppleInsider‘s Kasper Jade reported that the new machines had already been rolling off Taiwanese assembly lines for roughly two weeks.

According to Jade’s report, the new iMacs — the “most versatile ever” — will have:

  • More affordable pricing, subsidized to some extent by the iPhone’s extraordinary profit margins
  • Thinner industrial design, possibly patterned after the 24″ LED Cinema Display Apple introduced last October.
  • Blu-ray support, despite Steve Jobs’ characterization of the high-def video technology’s licensing issues as a “bag of hurt”
  • New features catering to the “semi-professional audio/video crowd,” including, according to the French site Mac4Ever, a built-in SD camera card reader

The iMac line is certainly due for some attention. According to MacRumors’ Buyer’s Guide, Apple refreshes its desktop line on average every 220 days. It’s been 210 days since Apple did anything new with the iMac, and that was a routine upgrade of memory, storage and graphics capability.

“An announcement could come anytime between next week and mid-October,” AppleInsider wrote last week. “Put simply, it’s up to marketing to press the ‘Go’ button.”

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