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