The Mac mini is a great computer and helps satisfy the low end of the market with a product that offers the functionality that most people need.
The Mac mini was rumored to be discontinued (that would be a bad mistake) but now its rumored to be next in line for a major update. What if Apple has more in mind for the mini brand. What if Apple decided to make a bigger commitment to the low end of the market.
Apple decided that the Mac mini (like the consumer and pro lines) needed a laptop brother. The result would be an Eee PC-ish miniature nopebook that would offer the functionality that most people need in a small form factor.
I can even see it having a detachable display or perhaps one that can rotate. With those options it would make a great travel companion for watching movies downloaded from iTunes and also be very popular with modders.
What about the Macbook Air then? Isn't Apple on the UMPC market with that one? I don't think it would make a lot of sense to spend lots of time and money on a product that competes with another one within the same company...
Sales cannibalisation is a problem that Apple has been wrestling with for years. I guess it started in earnest with the iMac, then the iBook canniblising the pro lines. Apple had pro and consumer lines before then but they were alot less clearly defined, the hardware had more similarities in my opinion. Its the various iPods which have done it most I think. And the iPhone is also affecting them. But Apple knew all that would happen.
I imagine the MacBook Air is having a slight effect on the MacBook Pro sales, but these will mostly be the "I always buy the most expensive model whether I need it or not" crowd. I have to say I am starting to develop issues with the MBP. The are beautiful machines, but the enclosure is dated and the hardware is too similar to the MacBook to justify the price hike. You are essentially paying double the price for a bigger screen and a better graphics card. Most Mac Users don't need a better graphics card. Its usually a better idea to get a MacBook and a 20" Cinema Display. Costs about the same too. Apple's price points in general are getting a little out of whack with the rest of the universe. Their cheapest laptop is the same price it was over 3 years ago (in the UK it is). They were competitive then. Lets look at the difference in hardware between now and then: Now you get a slightly wider screen and everything else is faster be it slightly or significantly. You have lost the dedicated GPU and VRAM. The HD sizes are better now, (but they were poor then) but the entry level is still running a combo drive. (I imagine it would be cheaper for Apple to drop the combo from the two models it still ships with them and up their order for superdrives, the extra volume bringing the price down). Both units had pretty much the same features as standard - bluetooth, wireless, CDRW, iLife etc. The MacBook is a great machine, and it still represents a good enough deal to sell well, but I really think its time Apple passed on some of the savings to its customers. Their margin on laptops must have skyrocketed in the last three years. And imagine how many more MacBooks they'd sell at 25% off the current price. I think they'd make just as much money, and the'd have a much bigger user base too. When we get refurb, used or ex-rental MacBooks, they fly out the showroom.
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