Return of the Mac

I’ll never tire of that headline, you know ;-)

So, it’s new product time from Apple. Cringlely was wrong about subsidies but at £339 (plus keyboard etc) the Mac Mini is still a very desirable and affordable bit of kit, and crucially it’s competing with some pretty ropey sub-£500 PCs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple experiences iPod Mini-style shortages as it struggles to keep up with demand, which I’m sure will be huge. A decent TV ad campaign could make the demand huger still.

As for the iPod Shuffle, I’m not convinced; then again, I’m not the target market (half- or one-GB players are too limited for me, and I like having a display). But you can’t argue with the basics: you can now join the iPod family for £69.

I’ll reserve judgement on iLife 05 and iWork 05 until I’ve used them, but it’s interesting that iWork is just a word processor and a (good) presentation package; that means it’s a better fit for most of us than AppleWorks, but it shouldn’t stop Microsoft from continuing to make Office:Mac. Again, the pricing’s sensible: £49 for each (although iLife, as before, will be preloaded on new Macs).

On a related note, Apple shifted 4.5 million iPods in the last quarter; Creative Labs sold 2 million, many of them flash-based players. It’ll be interesting to see whether Creative can eat into the iPod and iPod Mini’s market share, or whether the iPod Shuffle will eat Creative’s flash-based players for lunch. We live in interesting times, or at least we do if we’re geeks :-)

4 thoughts on “Return of the Mac

  1. David says:

    It’s a shame that they weren’t braver. I doubt that at that price point the mini is likely to have any massive impact. At less than £200 it would’ve really hurt the PC market methinks. (Bearing in mind you can get a P4 2.8 with a printer and 15″ TFT from dell for only a ton more) I get the feeling that the majority of customers will be current apple owners. Using the comparison with the xbox earlier – when they brought it out at the original pricing, it was hardly noticed. when they made as cheap (or cheaper) than everyone else it became a major player.

    Not sure about the new ipod. I think I’d rather have a display – and you can get a 512Mb muvo for about £90.

  2. Gary says:

    I think you’re right to a point: if the Mini were cheaper, it’d be the computing success story of the century. But I’m not convinced that it’ll just appeal to existing Mac owners; with a decent marketing push (and a bit more press coverage of windows’ difficulties) I think it’ll tempt a lot of would-be switchers who thought about a Mac but didn’t want to spring for an iMac.

    Don’t forget the power of iLife, either. iPhoto and to a lesser extent iDVD and iMovie are excellent, excellent programs, and IMO there’s no PC equivalent in terms of sheer ease of use. Although I’m a bit baffled that instead of also including iWork, they’re putting Appleworks on the Mini instead. Weird.

    I’m with you on the iPod, but as I wrote in my post I’m not the target market for it so I’ve no idea whether it’ll be successful or not. I can understand the rationale – it’s good for taking to the gym, or a quick bus trip – but I do think that it only really makes sense if you’re the sort of person who syncs with iTunes every day. If you look at it as part of a package – the Shuffle for listening, iTunes to manage its playlist – then it’s quite clever. Still too much hassle for me though, because I’m fickle with music – even filling the iPod Mini with stuff often leaves me whingeing that I don’t have anything I want to listen to. I spend as much time looking for the perfect tune as I do actually listening to stuff, and the Shuffle won’t let me do that.

    A few other interesting things about the Shuffle: because it doesn’t have a display, it doesn’t have the single best thing that elevates the iPod over its competitors: the clickwheel/user interface combination. And there’s some smart ideas in the Shuffle iTunes integration, so when you sync you can automatically convert everything to 128Kbps AAC to maximise listening time without destroying the original files in your library.

    Creative’s sales figures are interesting, though – they’re way in excess of what they’d predicted. And that’s before the various digital music subscription services – portable friendly ones such as Napster To Go – kick in.

  3. David says:

    It’s a bit of a shame they called it mini and not baby. That would’ve let them release a bigger, more powerful product called the Mac Daddy – or even Daddy Mac. ;-D

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