Rumor has it the Mac Mini is soon finished.

According to this piece by Kasper Jade at AppleInsider, the Mac Mini may be on its way out. The article outlines what most Mini-followers already know: The Mini has been pretty low key in Apple’s lineup, with very few updates or price breaks.

There are a lot of Apple rumors. Many of them are ridiculous, and a large percentage are dubious, but this one has merit to me. However, I don’t necessarily think it’s because Apple doesn’t want to have a low-cost, quality machine. Rather, I think it’s because the very design of the machine that keeps it cool also prevents it from ever getting real price breaks. Look at it. A six-inch square is likely using a few custom boards that do not lend themselves to cheap mass quantities and efficiencies of scale.

In my opinion this happened with the G4 iMac (a.k.a. the “iLamp”). Many praised its dome base and hovering display, but the custom boards necessary for that dome were likely responsible for the prices not sufficiently lowering over its life cycle. When it was replaced by the G5 iMac (the one like the current model), the price break at the low end was $500 (almost 28%)! A much better machine, yet it cost $500 less. I believe this was because it was less expensive to manufacture, and required fewer custom components.

Back to the Mini, so here is a machine into which Apple can maybe put better processors (with its small space is the heat generated by faster chips too much?), but can’t really lower the price anyway. It becomes less and less of a value as time goes on. It only makes sense to can it.

My hope is that, like the G4 iMac, the Mini is replaced with something that serves the same purpose while keeping an eye towards the fact that it’s a consumer model and must make concessions to cost. Only time will tell, but I can certainly understand why the current Mini might have to go.

Another option would be for Apple to just forgo profits on the thing. A “loss leader”, if you will. I don’t believe Apple would take an actual loss, it’s not their style, but they may skip some profit to get more people in the Mac fold. Still, that seems dubious to me. If Apple wants to remain in this arena I think they’ll design a new model. I hope so.

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4 thoughts on “Rumor has it the Mac Mini is soon finished.

  1. Anonymous,

    First, thanks for correcting my math!

    Second, I’d like to see such a machine as well. I’d prefer Apple get into the market between the iMac and Mac Pro more than simply stay in the market with the Mini.

  2. When it was replaced by the G5 iMac (the one like the current model), the price break at the low end was $500 (almost 40%)!

    The price break for a 17-inch G5 iMac compared to the previous 17-inch model was $500, as you said the G5 iMac was a much better machine, but that’s ‘only’ a 28% cut.

    The Core 2 Duo (Merom) in all the other Macs — besides the Xeon Mac Pro — is actually cooler in most circumstances than the Core Duo (Yonah) the Mini has.

    Comparing standard voltage parts, the power consumption is about the same according to Intel’s datasheets. The Core Duo has a thermal design power of 31W (page 80), the Core 2 Duo has a thermal design power of 34W (page 73). Both processors are manufactured using a 65nm process.

    If Apple wants to remain in this arena I think they’ll design a new model. I hope so.

    I’d like to see an entry-level Mac desktop, slightly bigger and more expensive than the Mac mini. With the mini Apple had to cut too many corners, even the basic stuff like a keyboard and a mouse.

  3. Thanks John. I knew Intel had reduced heat on the C2D but I did not know it was enough to make it less than the CD.
    I believe even if Apple used “normal” PC parts for a Mini replacement they would still develop a very Apple-type design. For example, the Apple TV is stylish and it’s essentially just a low-end PC.

  4. The Core 2 Duo (Merom) in all the other Macs — besides the Xeon Mac Pro — is actually cooler in most circumstances than the Core Duo (Yonah) the Mini has. Intel are good at that kind of magic these days. Thank goodness they learned!

    I’ve had the dubious honour of fiddling around inside a G4 iMac and know the Mini’s innards pretty well too. I should tell you they’re very different. The iMac had a lot of metal, curves, and weight to fit just right in its sphere enclosure. The Mini is fairly spartan when it comes to the logic board, which reminds me of a MacBook only in a different dimension of square.

    You do have a point that there are presumably cheaper ways to assemble the lowest end modern Mac. But I doubt Apple would want to release something akin to a normal PC with every corner cut to ensure the price is right. The Mini seems to sit just in the sweet spot between cost saving and cool design. If it is replaced, it’s likely to be something smaller I think with flash and maybe without an optical drive. But not so soon as AI think. This machine’s still got a job to do.

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