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 :-)