Job's genius of the Apple Mac Mini is that by placing its initial price point at $500, the heretofor criticism that Macs are too expensive is eviscerated. When the mummering finally subsides, the more objective testing organizations will be compelled to test the Mini against comparably priced PC's. The contest will turn on user satisfaction and security. Unless MS's Longhorn - if and when it is ever released, fully addresses and meets the virulent security problems infecting the PC majority,* and, assuming the plague of worms and virii remains without adequate and effective countermeasures, OSX's inherent security will be the feature that determines which is best. Odds are OSX will prevail. Mac users, advocates and maniacs will be vindicated. Grudging resentment and admissions from the PC community will be met with generous graciousness by the Mac faithful. The controversies over which is better will fade and we can all get on with the really important issues.* Often cited but infrequently examined, the 95: <5 ratio of PC to Mac sales consistently ignores the fact that people use and keep Macs longer. Macs just keep on working. A PC's useful life, whether because of lower build quality or user frustration-motivated destruction, is notably shorter than a Mac's. A better measure would be the total number of PC's to Macs in productive use on a day to day basis. I daresay the ratio would be dramatically different.
I honestly wish the Mac Mini were $399. I feel Apple could afford to take a 5% margin on ONE product. As I have explained here - I see the MacMini as a typical product margin - about 25%.I don't. I think the $100 price difference will make very little difference. If Apple can afford to cut $100 off the price, I'd rather they continue to keep the device at $500 and include 802.11 support as standard.But... but... I'd rather they did neither. It can sell exceedingly well for $500. Pricing it lower almost certainly will not gain any more sales, but it will cut Apple's profits. And I want Apple to have profitable lines. Whatever my misgivings about some of their current business practices, selling goods at above cost price is a great, decent, honourable price model and I'd rather see that than the usual razor blades/upselling/etc lock-em-in build-monopolies kind of BS that passes for "legitimate business" these days.It's also safer. At its heart, Apple sells a proprietary system (albeit open in a few areas, moreso than in the past.) Whether you approve of such things or not, it's nice for customers if they can be sure if Apple will still be around in five years to support them if Apple's going to make it impossible for users or third parties to support them. Apple's profit margins must be protected. It must see Macs as an ongoing business, not as something to periodically gamble with.I'm just sayin' - I would have stunned everyone with a $399 - possibly even a $449 price tag. Just to show everyone there's NO PC that is less. I might have even considered a gimmicky rebate - even though I hate rebates. I wouldn't be surprised if there are people that are SO Apple obsessed that they would forgo the rebate to "donate to Apple"Are you seriously saying that $499 didn't stun the market? I mean, I'm baffled here. I know $399 is lower than $499, but it's hard to see what price level would have really been genuinely, significantly, more stunning than the $499. Maybe $150? I don't know. I doubt it can be done for $150. As for PCs, you have to beat $199 if you want to make sure there is no PC available for the same price. So it's not something Apple can do. What it can do is say "Look at the budget PC end, let's produce something better than all of the budget PCs for a budget price", and that's what they did.If Apple is smart - they will hook all the "must have's" and then hook all the "well I'll bite's" and then about August - lower the price to $449 for Christmas and bump it up to 1.5 and 1.75 OR add in Airport Extreme and Bluetooth and an Svideo out. I think they missed the boat of a TV as a monitorGiven 1024x768 tends, in my experience, to be a little cramped for running OS X (I have to reduce Finder font sizes a little from the default every time I create a new directory at that size), I think running it on a TV would be horrible. I see the advantage in TV output, but only in terms of being able to replace the DVD player with this. With DVD players costing around $50 for something reasonable and small, and with an S-Video adapter likely to cost the same for this box, I agree it'd have been nice for Apple to support it directly, but I don't think they're missing the boat of TVs as monitors.This isn't the 1980s any more. 640x200 is not an obscene amount of screen space as it was then.As for the others, I think Apple would be best off keeping the price the same but adding the odd feature. Airport and bluetooth are the most obvious improvements. Maybe they should, but only for the $599 model. I'll leave it to Apple to decide what they can afford.Lastly. It's time for the iPod to converge or grow - the iPod Photo was a step in the right direction - but Apple really needs a camera. I say slap one on to an iPod or buy/merge with ... wait for this ... Kodak! Imagine the AMAZING opportunity this would be for Apple! Apple iPhoto kiosks everywhere! Rescue of a still great company! The effects of this could turn Apple around in an amazing way!I think taking over a company to help you launch one little product is probably a bad idea, personally. It's a huge investment with little apparent reasoning. The iPod Camera would be a tiny wave in Apple's veritable ocean of products. Why buy Kodak for that? It'd be like buying Pepsi so you can launch an iPod-themed soda.Lots of things to think about, but I think you're a little picky about the Mac mini price and the convergance/mergance proposals seem a little ill-considered.I think you underestimate what two CEO's of powerful companies have for bargaining chips.Sun is no longer a viable marketer of their own products. I think they should merge before a hostile takeover comes about. [It's in the crystal ball I think]Sun may be going through a bad patch, but it's questionable that they're a good fit with Apple. Apple might be able to market Java better, but it's unlikely. Java is pretty much everywhere right now. The issue isn't with the adoption rate but with the technology, and I doubt Apple is the right group to fix that.As for the pricing on the Mac Mini - I think you are correct [for the most part] and I think I was too. $500 is a magical number to spend. With tax and extras this machine is a $700 machine - for that - I'd kinda rather have an eMac. This machine wasn't just made to appeal to PC people - it was meant to appeal to Mac people as a second machine.I doubt many people agree. At an extreme I'd prefer an $800 Mac mini to an $800 eMac, if only because I don't want the fixed monitor. In any case, an $800 eMac is about comparable to a basic $500 Mac mini, but with the additional monitor. The extras for the Mac mini in general are the same with both machines, extra RAM, Airport, plus the taxes you mention. The only major difference is what comes with it, the keyboard, mouse, and monitor, in the case of the eMac.And, going back to the PC sphere, what's competing with the Mac mini? Well, for $200 you can get a basic Wal*Mart box running something GNU/Linux based. It'll be usable, for the word processing and web browsing you want to use the machine for. Grandma can probably configure it if it's Linspire. Arguably, it's no harder to use - depending on choice of distro - than an XP box, so we can easily discount the whole "Yeah, but a real PC comes with XP" type thing.The hardware, of course, is slow, and you wouldn't want Apple to build an equivalent Mac. When you get to the $500 mark, you start looking at nice-ish PCs you might consider getting. And then the Mac mini comes along and looks a whole lot better than any of those PCs.And those PCs, of course, will come with a keyboard and mouse but not a lot else. We're still in the same ball park as far as the price goes, even when you add on the $30 or so for third party mice and keyboards. Everything else remains the same.I still think $500 is perfect.There is no such thing as a viable PC that you could rely on for less than $400 - so your point was lost with saying a $100-$300 machine. I don't want Apple to take a loss, but I think you may be underestimating how much this Mini is costing them.Either I'm misunderstanding the above or you're misunderstanding me. I'm far from underestimating how much a Mini is costing. I'm saying it costs a fair amount and I don't want the price any lower because to do so would cut Apple's margins to an extreme. If you actually meant "over estimating", that's possible but I'm still of the opinion it'd be better to produce a better $500 machine than drop the price if they really have lots of cash to spare. Meanwhile, you're talking about getting them to drop from a 25% margin to one similar to Dell's, and that's what I'm arguing against. I want them to have a 25% margin. Hell, if they can make it sell with a 50% margin, I'd like them to do that.It's not that I want to be ripped off. Far from it. What I don't want is any company producing hardware I rely upon to get itself into financial trouble, and producing commodity hardware is a surefire way to do it. Dell's success is very much the exception on the commodity hardware world. It's killed companies that weren't prepared for it. Look at Commodore - one year it's producing high margin Amigas and C64s, often with margins of 70% or more (the C64 cost around $50 to make at one point); then it enters the PC industry thinking it has to be
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