The Argument for Apple to Ship a New Mac mini is Even Stronger Now

2 minute read
| Editorial

A confluence of products, competition, and timing means Apple couldn’t have a better opportunity to deliver a new Mac mini.

Beloved Mac mini

Beloved Mac mini desperately needs upgraded. Now is the perfect time. Image credit: Apple

The last time Apple updated the Mac mini was in October, 2014. It was met with some derision. That was in the early phase of what I call The Great Mac Malaise (2014-2017).
That’s when Apple lost its way with the Mac, and the gap between updates was being measured in thousands of days.

A New Mac mini Era

With Apple’s introduction of the iMac Pro late last year, and the commitment to a new, modular Mac Pro, and a new Apple display for the Mac Pro, it appears that Apple is back on the Mac bandwagon. Thinking about the confluence of events, it occurs to me that this summer would be a great time for Apple to update the Mac mini. Here are all the factors that are coming into play.

The Mac Factor. If Apple wants to prove that it has developed a new way of thinking about the Mac, then delivering an update to a staple of its Mac family would be a good move. The Mac mini started out as a “Switcher” kind of Mac, but it’s size, price and user ability to attach a preferred display has made it a beloved member of the family. Apple can take that feeling to the bank.

The Competition Factor. If Apple drops this product, the competition will seize on this product line weakness. That means, with the capability and security of Windows 10, competitors will have an opportunity to nibble away at Apple’s infrastructure of products. Why should Apple show signs of weakness and offer up an opening?

For example, when I reviewed the HP Z2 mini, the uniform response was, “That’s so cool. I wish I could put macOS on it.” You cannot.

HP Z2 Mini

HP Z2 mini PC. Small, beautiful, powerful. Sound familiar?

[HP Caters to Creative/Tech Pros with Z2 Mini PC ]

The 2013 Mac Pro Factor. There are many 2013 Mac Pro customers who, five years later, will want a powerful, headless desktop as a replacement. Many of them won’t be able to afford a 2019 Mac Pro. (I estimate the starting price at US$6,995.) But they would dearly love to grab a 2018 Mac mini for roughly a kilobuck or two and have substantially more horsepower married to their favored display. Or two. Otherwise, they’d be stuck reverting to a standard iMac. Unsavory.

The Display Factor. Apple has already said it’s working on a new display for the 2019 Mac Pro. But at the expected price points, that Mac won’t sell in quantity, likely fewer than all the 2013 Mac Pros to date. If Apple would like to vastly increase the demand for this new display by, perhaps, a factor of 10, then giving us a new Mac mini to marry it with would do the job.

The Science Factor. In this area of visualization and big data, creative and technical professionals want Macs with great computational ability that can connect to a wide range of displays. Both HP and Microsoft are using Apple’s Mac lapse to their advantage, marketing to creative and technical professionals. Check out this video.

The Aspiration Factor. This kind of Mac is all about aspiration. Without a built-in display, Apple can concentrate on the coolness of the design and the computational power. It may not be the choice of everyone, but everyone who can’t afford an iMac Pro or 2019 Mac Pro will want one. That’s marketing 101.

A Mac mini Confluence of Events

With all these factors coming into play at the same time, this summer would be a perfect time to launch a beautiful, powerful, aspirational Mac mini. It would punctuate Apple’s new and enduring commitment to the Mac family and give us all a new, powerful desktop Mac we’ve been thirsting for.

Plus, Tim Cook thinks the Mac mini is important. That helps.

8 Comments Add a comment

  1. eolake

    I agree. But my feeling is; don’t hold your breath. It feels to me like Apple is not currently interested in low end at all. Which is sad.

  2. lemon4611

    When I see disgraceful grammar like this “Beloved Mac mini desperately needs upgraded.” It’s only natural that I have to question the writing credentials of the author. Yes grammar matters !

    • Old UNIX Guy

      lemon4611,

      If grammar matters so much to you then why did you incorrectly capitalize the word “It’s”? 😉

      Old UNIX Guy

      • Mr. EMan

        As a former newsletter editor, I would totally edit his/her post in at least 3 places. Punctuation matters. Also, mistakes happen.

        To stay on topic, I used to run Hackintoshes years ago, which were a pain. I switched to used Mac Pros (2008), which I have to hack to run High Sierra. I would love a new Mac Mini to replace them, as John mentions. I would, however, switch back to non-Apple hardware if I have no affordable upgrade path for newer macOSes.

  3. Old UNIX Guy

    John,

    As always, I appreciate and almost always agree with your perspective on how Apple is failing to meet the needs of the scientific community … a community which helped saved Apple’s butt back in the early part of this century when they became one of the first groups to start buying tons of Macs after Apple release the UNIX-based OS X.

    I really do hope Apple will update the Mac mini to make a viable “product in their lineup.” I also really do hope that Apple will not just release a high-end (in other words, unaffordable to most people) display. I think that not having an external display as part of their product lineup has been a huge mistake.

    Just the other night I was watching NOVA Wonders on PBS … take a look at the following segment from the show: https://tn.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/nvnw-sci-whalesongs/whale-songs-nova-wonders-what-are-animals-saying/?#.WvLvlC-ZOOE

    First off, can you think of any display out there that looks as cool as that Apple display? Second, look at all the free advertising Apple is getting – and would be giving up – if that scientist was using a (ugly) LG display instead.

    Sadly, if that scientist – or any other – wanted to hook up a 4K display to their Apple laptop(s), they’d have no choice but to buy some sort of ugly looking display. Very sadly, unless they want to buy used, they’d have to buy some sort of ugly looking display if they want ANY external display right now!

    Come on Apple, get back in the game. Show the scientific community some love…

    Old UNIX Guy

  4. geoduck

    FWIW A couple of years ago when it was time to replace my long in the tooth MacBook Pro I came fairly close to going with am HP Z2 and putting Linux on it. It is a quite impressive machine. As are the HP Envy laptops. I’ve set up a couple of those for work and they are very nice. While Apple is fiddling, HP is nipping at their heels with nicely designed, powerful systems, at reasonable prices. Systems that will run Win10 or Linux. Apple needs to wake up. Yes a new Mac Pro and iMac Pro are nice, but the whole Mac line needs a serious rethink.

  5. Ned

    My desktop is three Mac minis and two external Mini enclosures.with two MacOS on each of the Mac minis: Sierra/El Capitan; Mountain Lion/Snow Leopard; Tiger/OS9 Classic. The latest model (2011) Mac mini sits on its side at 7.5″ tall. That’s the same height as the two older Mac minis (stacked) with a matching external drive enclosure under each – 1.5″+2″+1.5″+2″=about 7.25″. Without the optical drive and accompanying slot, the older model would have had a foot print of 6.5″X6.5″X1.5″. The current model is 7.5″X7.5″X1.25″ making the new one bigger than the old and using more aluminum. A new Mac mini could go back to the old dimensions, minus the optical drive and you could stack four “mini” enclosures in less space than one current model.

  6. jviddy

    It may not be the all singing, all dancing, cheaper but supper powerful mini workstation that you seem to want, but I believe that the new Mac mini is already available, Apple just haven’t added the right functionality yet.

    When the original Mac mini was released it was a cheapish desktop PC that showed windows users there was another option. It became a route into the world of Apple (the intel MacBooks being the next big step) that capitalised on the success of the iPod bring OS X to the masses.

    Now the masses want Apple and are wedded to their iPhones but options for A real Mac computer are getting further out of reach for many. Apple has te Ipad which is there option for those who want a laptop alternative, but what about those who want a desktop experience?

    The majority of computer users (as much as you hate to admit it, power users will always be the minority) use their computer for surfing the internet, typing documents, creating spreadsheets and managing their photo library. They don’t need and all singing and dancing beast with a water cooled graphics card.

    I suggest the device they need is already sat under you TV. It has HDMI for connecting to a screen, WiFi, internal storage and Bluetooth for connecting a keyboard and mouse. It runs a custom version of IOS and has an App Store to provide all those productivity apps they need.

    Updating TVOS with support for keyboard and mouse (both physical and UX) and realising appropriate versions of safari, pages and numbers would be relatively easy.

    Even if the bumped up the cost to $200 plus what ever a K&m cost i believe it would fly off the shelves. For home users looking at low cost windows devices it would be a no brainer. It could even see it gaining traction in the work space.

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