Welcome to Macintosh

The Gaping Hole in Apple's Desktop Line

- 2007.07.13

Bong! . . . :-) . . . Welcome to Macintosh!

From low end to high end of Apple's desktop line, you have the Mac mini, the iMac, and the Mac Pro. Let's break down the prices for each entry-level model (as per the Apple Store):

Mac mini

  • 1.66 GHz Intel Core Duo
  • 512 MB DDR2 SDRAM, expandable to 2 GB
  • 60 GB Serial ATA Hard Drive
  • 24x Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
  • Integrated GMA 950 video card with 64 MB of shared memory
  • Price: $599

iMac

  • 1.83 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo - 2 MB L2 Cache
  • 512 MB DDR SDRAM, expandable to 2 GB
  • 160 GB Serial ATA Hard Drive
  • 24x Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
  • 17" LCD Widescreen Monitor
  • Integrated GMA 950 video card with 64 MB of shared memory
  • Price: $999

Mac Pro

  • two 2.0 GHz Dual-Core Intel Xeon processors - 4 MB shared L2 cache (each processor)
  • 1 GB DDR2 ECC RAM, expandable to 16 GB
  • 250 GB Serial ATA Hard Drive
  • 16x SuperDrive (double-layer support)
  • Nvidia GeForce 7300 GT video card with 256 MB of GDDR2 SDRAM video memory
  • 3 open PCI Express slots
  • Price: $2,200

What's wrong with this picture? There's a gaping hole in the desktop line!

Let's get to the meat in the sandwich....

The Mac mini is the entry level Mac (rumored to be discontinued soon). It's the affordable entry into the Mac experience. BYODKM - bring your own display, keyboard, and mouse. Very few expansion possibilities, at least internally.

Next, the iMac. The darling of the Mac desktop line. A powerful Mac with a built-in LCD monitor and with a little more expandability than the Mac mini. Like the mini, most upgrades have to be done externally.

Finally, the Mac Pro. All the power you could ever want with all the expandability you can imagine - at a price guaranteed to give you an extreme case of the shakes and a stroke to boot!

If Apple kills off the mini, it would be a huge mistake. Especially as the "halo effect" from the iPod (and now the iPhone) has ignited a potential firestorm of converts from the other side. While the mini may be lacking in certain areas, one thing is clear: It's the most affordable Mac in the lineup, and killing it without a replacement, price-wise, would be completely stupid!

What's missing from Apple's desktop line? A midlevel "headless iMac". The mini didn't quite fit the bill for this. Physically it did, but expandability was severely compromised.

For years, the Mac faithful have been clamoring for the perfect compromise between a headless iMac with some room for internal expandability without having to fork over a Mac Pro. It's a segment Apple has ignored and continues to ignore.

It's time to listen up, Apple. What's wrong with offering a small to mid-sized tower or even a Cube redux with some expandability for $1,199?

You could resurrect the Cube in a slightly bigger form and throw in current iMac specs (just a rough example):

Cube

  • 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo 2
  • 512 MB DDR SDRAM, expandable to 2 GB
  • 160 GB Serial ATA Hard Drive
  • 24x Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) with an option for a SuperDrive
  • Dedicated graphics card, such as the GeForce 7300
  • 1 or 2 PCI Express slots and at least 1 open drive bay
  • Price: $1,199

This could easily be attained.

Part of the reason the Cube failed was because it had very little expandability and commanded the same price as the low-end G4 tower. Why would someone pay $1,599 for something with little expandability when they could have a Power Mac G4 with expandability for the same price?

This would provide the right balance between price and expandability. Apple could sell many of these, as there are a lot of Mac users who don't want an all-in-one, think the mini is too limited, and refuse to cough up the mucho dinero for the Mac Pro.

As wonderful as Apple is when it comes to design, they could easily make the new Mac as sleek and svelte as the rest of the Mac lineup. I've been on many forums such as AppleInsider and ThinkSecret (just to name a few), and I can tell you, there are plenty of Mac users clamoring for this.

Apple, if you build it, they will come. LEM

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