Apple Shares Tumble On iMac Delay

The company said it has stopped taking orders for existing iMac models, even though the replacement model won't be available until September. That means Apple will miss the back-to-school rush, a critical sales period for computer makers.

"We planned to have our next-generation iMac ready by the time the inventory of the current iMacs runs out in the next few weeks, but our planning was obviously less than perfect," Apple said in a statement posted at its online store.

It was an unusually open statement for the Cupertino, Calif.-based company, which rarely has anything to say about products that haven't been officially announced. On Friday, a spokesman did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Shares of Apple were down $1.79, or 5.5 percent, to $30.51 in morning trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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Apple's computer business, which was a pioneer in the 1970s, has been losing market share for years to PCs running Microsoft's Windows. Apple's biggest success in recent years has been the stylish iPod music player, which works on both PCs and Macs.

The current iMac line, which sports a flat-panel display that's attached to a base by a chrome swivel bar, was introduced in January 2002. Many analysts expected Apple CEO Steve Jobs to unveil new iMacs at the company's developer conference, which took place earlier in the week.

Instead, he showed off a new line of stand-alone flat-panel displays and previewed updates to Apple's operating system.

Computer sales now make up about 60 percent of the company's revenues.

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