Apple wasted a perfectly good press event on new enclosures and new keyboards on what are probably, the least significant products in the Macintosh line.
Instead of using this opportunity to add a desperately needed Mac CPU between the $600/$800 Mini and the Mac Pro which starts at $2500 (that’s at least a $1700 difference between desktop products!) For comparison, the MacBook/Pro line ranges in price from $1100, $1300, $1500, $2000, $2500, $2800– never a difference of more than $500.
The iPods range in price from $80, $150, $200, $250, $350– again, a nice range of products with a nice range of prices. In as much as everyone expect(ed)s new iPods based on the iPhone much more elegant touch screen, we can expect that Apple will continue to distribute their portable music products so that there is a size and price for most everyone.
So why does Apple fail to use the same logic in their core Macintosh product line?
For those that don’t follow my writings, I asked nearly the same question in Event DV Magazine in January of 2006 when I suggested a dual processor Mac Mini. I didn’t foresee the surprise transition to Intel chips when I wrote the article in October of 2005, but my point is still very valid today, as represented by the long Monster Mini special report on MacInTouch that spans almost a year of reader contributions.
Though it could be a Shuttle PC design, a much more aprorpiate, 1 or 2 rach unit (RU), rack mountable design would be exactly what pros need from Apple these days. Before you even try to suggest the xServ, first note that Apple doesn’t even list the Xserve on the Apple Store main page- at all. Next, look at the specs: even though it features two, dual core processors (just one more processor than the diminutive Mac Mini) the Xserve is 30 inches deep and weighs nearly 32 pounds for the base configuration.
Let’s compare this again:
Xserve 913.44 cubic inches, 31.7 pounds.
Mini: 84.5 cubic Inches, 3 pounds.
This means you can put 10.8 Mac Mini computers in the space of one Xserve and it would still weigh less than the Xserve.
Apple really needs to address this product chasm between the Mini and the Mac Pro. A professional model these key features: rack mountable, full size hard drive and optical drive, at least 4g of RAM, at least a single quad processor or two dual core processors, user replaceable components, many USB and Firewire ports (gobs of ports), each Firewire port (at least two) should be in a completely separate bus, FW-800 or (since that is dying off) a multilane SATA port on the back, at least one PCI slot or PCMCIA / ExpressCard slot so we can add functionality not currently included in the box.
Interestingly enough, other companies are already making just such a box. In addition to the venerable Shuttle PC company who are just pounding these babies out the door, there are other independent companies also producing little wonders, like Stealth Computer. Another interesting development that really shows how staid Apple has been is this innovative little wonder(s) from Richard Choi. His UNI concept allows users to buy those modules they want and just stack them up. No need to open a PC if each piece you want can be added like the jack of spades into a deck of cards.
What we do not need is a leftover G5 tower that takes up far more space than it needs to because it was designed to cool G5 chips we don’t use any more. It doesn’t fit in a rack of professional gear. It’s very heavy. It’s very expensive.
I hold out hope that the next press event demonstrates to the professionals out there that Apple has returned personnel and focus back to the core products that made Apple Computer into the Apple Inc that it is today. It is nice to have consumer electronics products augmenting the bottom line, but Apple is far, far from ready to stop making computers altogether. Until such time, Apple needs to keep up with the market, and provide their customers with the products, the tools, they demand.