Apple CEO Tim Cook, in an email to a Mac Mini fan, said that the Mac Mini is definitely part of Apple’s plans for the future. The cute but powerful Mac Mini has been around for three years with little or no upgrades. Is it finally going to get a facelift or a new avatar?
There’s nothing “mini” about the Mac Mini except for its name and form. At 7.7 inches, its small profile belies the power that lies within, which is not exactly saying much, to be honest. It just sounded nice.
The top end of the Mini comes with a 3.0GHz Intel Core i7 chipset (Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz) with a 1TB PCIe-based Flash Storage. That and the 8GB of LPDDR3 memory made it fast enough for reasonably intensive applications, but nothing like real-time video editing or high-end gaming. It supports two displays and has several connectivity options including Thunderbolt (X2), USB 3 (X4), SDXC card slot, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, Audio in, 3.5mm audio out and an IR receiver. It even has a built-in speaker that was fairly decent for its size.
The Mac Mini was never massively popular when it first came out, and that didn’t really improve when it got Haswell processors, 4K display support, dual Thunderbolt 2 ports and faster graphics the following year.
That said, the Mac Mini does have a not-insignificant pool of die-hard fans who’d swear by it. Maybe that’s why Cook is planning a refresh of some sort. His comment via email, which was authenticated by Apple, doesn’t really say much except for the fact that there will be a future version somewhere along the road. The problem is, we don’t know when, and what kind of upgrades we can expect to see.
Does it Even Make Sense to Release a Mac Mini Refresh?
In a way, it could. Apple’s devices segment is not exactly on fire. Growth is definitely there, but not the kind we’re used to seeing. iPhone X could see Apple’s iPhone sales get back on a strong growth path, but with global outlooks for the smartphone market not as rosy as previous years, it’s crucial that Apple squeeze out every last drop of revenue growth from its devices segments until its services segment is able to match up in terms of revenue contribution.
But that’s still a long way off, so Apple does need every bit of firepower it can get its hands on in order to keep the ship moving forward on the devices front. Even if iPhone X sales can blow historical numbers out of the water, that’s one product for about one year’s worth of sales. What then?
Apple might not be keen on resurrecting the Mini just for a limited number of fans, but it’s certainly re-thinking the Mac Pro, the other least-loved Apple device. They already working on a new version, as confirmed by senior executives. But nothing much was said of another Mac Mini, until Tim Cook’s recent email.
It does’t make any financial sense for Apple to revive a mostly-failed product, so why did Cook say that it was part of Apple’s plans for the future?
The only reasonable assumption is that Apple might try something new with the Mac Mini, like give it a steroid shot of specs to make it more muscular and suitable for intensive applications like augmented reality. That could make it an ideal portable “AR hub” to carry around, but it might also take it out of its current price range. However, if it can generate some interest in the market for hard core Apple fans – and there’s plenty of those to go around – then it might be worth the effort.