Saturday, November 11, 2006

Core2 Mac Mini

There has been a fair amount of speculation about when/if Apple will release a version of the Mac Mini using the Core 2 Duo processor. For example:

Apple hints at Core 2 Duo Mac mini?

How Soon Will the Mac mini Go Core2?

Personally, I'm dying to see a Core2 Mini. At the moment, I'm stuck with a 800 Mhz G4 iMac that just doesn't cut it any more, but I can't afford a 20" Core2 Duo iMac.

For the sake of argument, why would Apple not update the Mini to the Core2? Part of that depends where Apple really sees the Mini. When the (G4) Mini first came out, one of the pitches was for PC developers to use it in addition to a PC via a KVM switch. In this scenario, it made sense for Apple to make it beefy.

When the first Intel Macs came out, the Mini had a Core processor (I'll call the Core processor the "Core1" just to be extra clear) just like the other Macs, in particular the iMac. They wanted the Core archiecture, but there weren't many of those processors, so the Mini and the iMac were pretty similar. Then the Core2 came out and Apple bumped the iMac to a Core2 but left the Mini at a Core1.

I take this to indicate that Apple is trying to create some diversity in the product line - i.e., the need to differentiate the Mini from the iMac. Thus, they need to keep the Mini crippled, and they're no longer pitching the Mini as a developer machine. This is (unfortunately) like the IBM PC Jr back in the day. Now, they have bumped both Mini models to a Core1 Duo, but it's still a Core1 not a Core2 - i.e., still crippled.

The other possible motive (for Apple) of keeping the Mini at Core1 is profit margin. When the Core2 came out, Intel slashed the price of the Core1, but Apple has not dropped the price of the Mini. If Apple had a big stock of Core1 processors (especially Core1 Duos) when the Core2 came out (not likely given how shrewd Apple often is), this gives them a way to flush their Core1 inventory. More likely, Apple is just making bank on the reduced cost of the inputs.

So, I can see a few reasons why Apple may not bump the Mini to a Core2 very soon. I hope I'm wrong it because I'd really like a Core2 Mini. The MacWorld release timeframe that is being rumored would fit my budget very nicely.