Strictly Commercial

January 18, 2009

Why Mac Mini Must Return…

Filed under: Commercial, Technology — castlewriter @ 10:08 pm

There are a number of reasons why the Mac Mini plays a pivotal role at Apple. Price is chief among them, but even the lower price of the Mini (currently in the $500-700 range) compared to the rest of Apple’s computing lineup is actually of secondary importance to Apple, or should be.

It’s not enough for Apple to compel users to switch from Microsoft-centric home and office solutions using the enormously successful iPod portable media player family, unless Apple wants to have itself relegated to focusing on being a portable media player company. That’ll move many millions more units, but at lower price points than the company needs in order to survive, let alone thrive, as the 21st century burns on.

What Apple has, right now, is a relatively low-cost computer which tempts those who pick up an iPod to try “a little more Apple.” For only $600, users can pick up a small but powerful Mac desktop that lets Apple show off where it really shines — its end-to-end hardware and software integration via its absolutely brilliant OS X operating system, lifestyle application suite iLife and professional suite iWork.

The problem is… that small but powerful desktop isn’t exactly powerful anymore. The upstart “netbook” class of ultraportable computers now pack nearly the same performance profile the Mac Mini does, for equal or less cash.

The Mini’s Achilles’ Heel is its aging — and to be frank, not precisely spectacular even at inception — Intel GMA 950 graphics system, coupled with what is now a comparatively scant 1-2Gb of system memory and 80-120Gb hard drive.

Taken together, these now relatively paltry specs mean that the Mini is no longer a compelling or even mildly interesting offering for customers who see the potential in switching to a Mac, or even for those who see the value in establishing a dual-platform computing solution for home or small business.

What can be done? Plenty.

The internal arsenal of the Mini — like all of Apple’s computers with the exception of the Mac Pro — is essentially that of a laptop, specifically the MacBook. So here’s the idea:

A new “Unibody” Mac Mini following the exterior design cues of the MacBook line and incorporating the higher-end model’s internals:
2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
2Gb of memory, standard, upgradeable to 4Gb
Graphics: nVidia GeForce 9400m (256Mb memory)
250Gb 7200rpm hard drive or 128Gb SSD
Mini DisplayPort (VGA and DVI adapters sold separately)

That would be the Mac Mini. Price: $600. But for those who need even more guts in an only moderately larger footprint:

Mac Mini Pro:
2.53Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo
4Gb of memory, standard, upgradeable to 8Gb
Graphics: nVidia 9600m GT (512Mb memory)
320Gb 7200rpm hard drive or 128Gb SSD (256Gb SSD may be an option soon)

In addition to the Apple 24“ LED display, two more peripherals would be announced to coincide with the launch of the new Mini and Mini Pro:

Apple Studio Keyboard: The new Studio Keyboard, in wired and wireless incarnations, features illuminated black keys to maximize productivity in the low-light conditions of studios as well as maintain a clean, professional appearance.

Apple Phantom Mouse: The mouse is redesigned for greater ergonomic comfort, featuring an indentation for the thumb. The scroll ball of the Mighty Mouse is replaced with a small touch sensitive dome which is identical in function but far more durable and reliable. Left-handed and right-handed models are available as well as wired and wireless models.

Are you listening, Apple?

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