The Mac Mini: Apple’s Red-Headed Stepchild 2nd Mar 2009
The launch of the latest Mac Mini dispels long-held rumors that the diminutive desktop was about to be discontinued. But Apple’s shabby treatment of the device still leaves plenty of questions unanswered.
Namely, why did it take so long for Apple to make a relatively minor, incremental upgrade? Why are there no changes in the case’s overall appearance? Ultimately, why did Apple do the least it could’ve possibly done with this device?
"It’s almost like a stepchild," said Charlie Wolf, a Needham &
Company analyst. "Apple hasn’t done much in the way of marketing it, advertising it or doing anything. It’s just sort of there."
Apple traditionally refreshes its computers every six or seven months, and Mac products typically receive form-factor upgrades after no longer than four years. That’s why the Mac Mini is the weirdest in the family:
Apple waited about 600 days before it pushed out Tuesday’s minor update, and it still looks exactly the same (aside from an extra USB port and a new display port). The previous Mac Mini’s lifespan was so long, in fact, that
And the Mac Mini just gets weirder. There is no clear sense of who the target market is for the device, how the product is performing in sales, or why it still even exists.
Wolf provided his very rough estimate that Apple sells about 50,000 Mac
Minis per quarter. He based this guess on Apple’s quarterly sales of desktops overall, as well as the iMac’s higher popularity. That’s not a very big number relative to 728,000 desktops Apple said it sold overall in its first quarter of 2009 earnings report.
And though that small number is unsubstantiated, it would make sense given the responses
That’s enough head-scratching. We’re curious, too. Do you have a Mac Mini? If so, why did you buy one and what do you use it for? Feel free to reply in the comments below.
Update 3/4/2009: We’ve tabulated the first 150 responses below and reported the results in