Thoughts on the new Mac mini

I knew it was coming. Apple didn’t surprise me one bit by announcing the new Intel-powered Mac mini today.

It was not all champagne and roses though.

The baseline price went from $499 to $599. Well, understandable I suppose. They did make Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme standard after all. And the base RAM is still at 512 MB1. That’s good too. Gigabit ethernet is standard as well. A couple of extra USB ports are welcome. And THANK YOU for ditching the internal modem.

But, I can’t help but wonder if the extra $100 is going to really kill the sales volume. $499 is an awesome price point. $599 may still be competitive, but it’s enough to give a consumer pause.

And, I’ve often wondered— where is Apple going with the mini? Are they just trying to make an inexpensive mac? Are they shooting for the holy grail of home theater integration? Something I can use to eventually use to jukebox my entire DVD collection? Perhaps even DVR abilities?

And how about gaming? At $499, the mini was near the price of a game console. OK, so it doesn’t have much of a game library— but what if it did? What if you had some Bluetooth wireless controllers to use with it? What if Apple released a GameKit SDK— something on par (or better) than DirectX?

But no— sadly, the mini is now at least $599 and— adding insult to injury, has a integrated graphics 3D chip from Intel— not a decent ATI or NVIDIA chipset. Apple went with Intel this time— either out of contractual obligation or at least as a cost saving measure. What a shame. Will the mini be capable of running Doom 3? Or Quake 4? I don’t know, but I’m not about to shell out $599 to find out.

I think Apple could really make some inroads with the mini, but they need to be aggressive about marketing it. They should be willing to lose money per unit. I’d love to see a $399 mini— one with a $50 option for a wireless keyboard and wireless Mighty Mouse. The “halo effect” of runaway mini sales would be worth it. And where are the commercials for this Mac? Are they planning on telling people about it?

As for the other “fun” products today? $99 for a iPod case? $349 for some iPod speakers? My, oh my.

  1. Er, 512 MB less at least 80 MB that is reserved for the integrated graphics chipset. You’ll probably want to upgrade to 1 GB, so add another $100 to the total for that.


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