Mac Musings

What Would an $800 MacBook Mean for the Mac mini?

Daniel Knight - 2008.10.09 -

The scuttlebutt is that Apple will be introducing an $800 MacBook next Tuesday - and everyone is weighing in on how they think a low-cost Apple notebook will do in a market dominated by cheap Windows PCs that don't run Vista well and cheap netbooks that usually ship with Linux or Windows XP.

I have a different question: What does an $800 MacBook imply for the $600 Mac mini?

For a $200 difference in price, you get a built-in display, a built-in webcam, a built-in keyboard, a built-in trackpad, and a built-in battery backup.

Can you see the handwriting on the wall for the Mac mini - at least at the current price point? Who wouldn't buy an $800 MacBook instead of a Mac mini that doesn't include a mouse, a keyboard, or a display?

If Apple is indeed going to release an $800 MacBook, it's going to shake up the notebook world. That's a given. Even more so if Apple includes some of it legendary innovation to further separate the new low-end MacBook from the myriad me-too Windows notebooks.

Let's assume that any new consumer MacBook is going to share a lot of components with the next generation Mac mini - the same low power CPU, notebook hard drive, RAM, and graphic processor. Odds are pretty good that they'll even run at the same CPUs speed and have the same RAM and hard drive configuration. Just speculation, but I'm thinking Apple might just make the SuperDrive an external option - part of its strategy to get the price down.

I could easily see the Mac mini becoming a $500 computer and taking as big a bite out of the low-end desktop PC market as the new entry-level MacBook will in the sub-$1,000 notebook market.

To top it all off, Apple will be making money hand-over-fist with $100 add-on SuperDrives, at least until some third-party manufacturer decides to pursue that market.

We do live in interesting times!

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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