Motley Fool commentator: Apple has jumped the shark with new Mac mini

“The Mac Mini may sound like good news to some, but one Fool thinks he hears the sound of Steve Jobs slipping his foot into a neoprene booty, slipping on Fonzi’s leather jacket, and preparing to take a trip off the ramp and over the shark tank. The Mac Mini — I’m pretty sure Minimac is something you get from Kraft — is a cute little device. Yes, it cribs mercilessly from PC-based mini-ITX designs that have been around for over a year now, but it does put low-end Mac guts into a smaller, stylish little Mac package. The most interesting magic trick here is the illusion — somehow completely lost on the mainstream press — that this is really a $500 computer. Check out this sleight of hand,” Seth Jayson writes for The Motley Fool.

“It comes with no keyboard, no mouse, no monitor, no speakers. Kind of like Ford promising you a $7,000 car with no steering wheel or windshield,” Jayson writes. “Long story short: Gathering the cheapest components I could find at Apple’s online store, I came up with an $800 system before shipping (and the low-end monitor had a wait of six weeks). I think it’s ludicrous to expect that someone buying a Mac — and looking for Apple style, after all — is going to want to plug in a pizza-stained, three-year-old keyboard and a mouse chock full of desk scum. Why not just shell out the extra $500 for the low-end iMac, which has more juice and comes loaded and packed inside a crisp, flat-screen monitor?”

Jayson writes, “But this isn’t about Mac fans, right? It’s about ‘converting’ the unrepented. Unfortunately, Apple won’t be competing on price, contrary to Jobs’ claims. Mac fans who’ve been sipping Steve’s Koolade have often claimed that price — in addition to various Microsoft conspiracies — is the only thing keeping the masses from switching to their favorite brand, but take heed. Even if that were true, a quick online check shows you can get a comparable, full Dell system for $450. A quick peek at margins (Apple, 3.3%; Dell, 6.6%) explains why.”

“I’m sure Mac-happy Walter Mossberg will go into one of his uncharacteristic fits of apoplectic ecstasy when he gets his hands on one of these. (He must look like Bernini’s Saint Theresa about this time every year.) And I’m sure the Mac masses will praise it to the skies. But I’m also pretty sure Ma and Pa Kettle can do the third-grade math that escapes the headline writers for now, which shows the cheapest Mac system you can build around this thing is still 78% more expensive than a comparable PC,” Jayson writes.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Jayson’s missing the point that you can’t get a comparable, full Dell system for $450, or for that matter, any comparable PC for any price because PCs can’t run Mac OS X. As we like to point out, “It’s the software, stupid,” but it seems you have to have used a Mac to understand that very basic point. Many writers, like Jayson, obviously haven’t fully grasped all that you get when you buy a Mac mini for US$499. Unfortunately, it seems we’re in for a lot of similar thoughts from writers who’ve never touched anything but a Windows PC.


  1. Why on earth would he pick on Mossberg like that? Because Mossberg is a respected journalist working at a paper read by millions?! Jealous much, Jayson???

    And to be fair, it’s more like HONDA offering $7,000 car than Ford. Honda would be able to give you a lot more reliability, style and ease of use for that price point than Ford could… if you don’t believe me, compare the Civic and the Fiesta, circa 1988. The Civic didn’t come with a radio or many amenities, but you could run it till the wheels fell off without having to lift the hood. Not so much with the Fiesta.

    (incredibly, this post brought to you by the word “quality”, a concept that eludes the writers of the Motley Fool…)

  2. Jayson truly is a motley fool. But not in a good way, you know? Why did I just waste the last 35 seconds reading his inane blathering? That’s half a minute of my life that I’ll never get back…

  3. This guy is one half of the fools who has always had it out for Apple and has been knocking them on WSB radio for years here in Atlanta.
    He and Clark Howard have always found a way to poop Apple. It’s getting more and more difficult.

  4. My email to that “fool”


    After reading your “analysis” of the Mac mini, I can see why you are labeled a fool. However, a more appropriate moniker for you would be idiot.

    Just curious – ever heard of a KVM? That stands for Keyboard, Video, Monitor switch. Go look one up on the net.

    And by the way – what you leave out in your idiotic comparison to a Dell machine is that you get the iLife suite (sold seprately for $79.00) with it. Gee, what do you get with the Dell? Maybe MusicMatch (crap program) and Microsoft Money? Big fucking deal.

    Do me a favor – don’t write about things that are over your head. It is obvious you don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about or how to make a fair comparison.



  5. I had to respond to this one (yes, I write my own stuff, too).

    MDN, you need to poke at this guy a little more. He’s obviously VERY clueless about “why” people buy computers in the first place.

    Why would you spend $2,000 on a souped up econo-box PC when you can get a Dell or Gateway for $500? Why would a company spend $3,000, $4,000 or $50,000 for a server when they could get one from Dell or Gateway for $500?

    Because, amazingly, computers are different things to different people. There are different needs and, therefore, different kinds of computers for different jobs, tasks, tastes, checkbooks, space, etc.

    MDN is correct, people in the Wintel world will NOT jump to the Mac mini overnight. That move will be a process, not an event. Again, if Microsoft/Intel lose 2-3 percent of desktop marketshare, Apple nearly doubles theirs. And, 2-3 percent of Wintellians get a better life.

    And so it begins.

    I’ve said it before ( and I’ll say it again: Apple is in the best marketing position they’ve been in since they decided NOT to license Mac OS back in the 80s (that was probably an on-going decision down through the years, and Uncle Steve J. wasn’t around then anyway).

    I thought the iPod was a bit pricey for the original 5 gigabyte model, but I bought one anyway. So did many others and a few million folks since then. The market responded to Jobs and Company in a big way.

    Let the market decide about the Mac mini. In the meantime, I’m getting three. One for a “play” server, one for the living room, one for parents.

    And I still have a PowerMac G5 that I use daily. MDN’s probably tired from all the posts this past week. That guy deserved a Bill Palmer award.

    Tera Patricks

  6. I still cannot configure a computer at dell, gateway, or hp for less than $700. I add and subtract parts that would be comparable to what the Mac has and at Dell I get a price of $716 and that is before tax and shipping.

    This is for my comparison to the new Mini mac

    P4 2.8 Ghz
    256 Ram
    40 gig hard drive
    combo drive
    no monitor
    no speakers
    firewire card
    some other basic stuff that dell offers no choice to unselect em
    I don’t think the keyboard and mouse add up to a couple hundred dollars either.

    Just my $.02

  7. WHERE, OH WHERE, does it say you have to buy an Apple monitor and keyboard to use this product? This jackass can’t understand that? Well, I am surprised he made it past the 3rd grade.

  8. This poor shmuck wants so bad to be right about something I think he might pee himself. He picked a poor time to bash Apple, Steve Jobs, and Mac Fans in an attempt to gain journalistic credibility. Guys like this just end up looking foolish these days. Bye Jayson.

  9. A quick trip to dell.

    Low end computer.(NO MONITOR)
    2.8 P4
    512MB RAM
    40 GIG HD
    DVD / CDRW

    $855 (-50 MAIL IN REBATE).

    1.42 G4
    256 MB RAM
    80 GIG HD
    ILIFR 05
    OS X 10.3


    Sorry despite popular belief a $449 pc with monitor does not exist. by the time you add xp pro, anti virus, anti spy. misc photo amd music jukeboxes, graphics cards you have easily surpased the price of a Mac Mini.

    Bloody brainwashed “journalists”.

  10. All this is speculative. This is a new market for Apple and there is no real history to base his assumptions on. Only time will tell…

    Also, the Mac mini won’t go on sale/delivery until jan22. You would assume that someone at Apple has gauged the market or they wouldn’t be introducing this new Mac. To believe Apple is oblivious to market research would imply idiocy.

  11. These guys just are not getting it. Here is a reply that I wrote to another pundit on this subject which applies here too:

    Many people who are currently on PCs may have been exposed to Apple products through the iPod recently. Many have said that they would like to try a Mac but that the entry costs are too high. Many people have an old computer that they would like to upgrade but then they would have to throw their old monitor away. The Mac mini is the computer to perfectly fill their needs.

    They can use their current monitor (they could even use their TV in a pinch with an 19 dollar s-video adaptor). They can also use their current keyboard and mouse if they want. Even if the mouse and keyboard are the outdated PS/2 style a 5 dollar PS/2 to USB adaptor is all it will take. So for the basic home user wanting to upgrade, for 499 dollars they will get:

    A great small computer that is highly portable and will save them space.

    An end to battling viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, or other malware (Currently there are ZERO viruses in the wild for OS X, yes that is right, ZERO. Contrast this to the over 70,000 viruses that exist for windows. It always bugs me when everybody says Macs have fewer problems with malware that windows. For the last four years we have had ZERO problems so it should be “Macs currently have NO PROBLEMS WITH VIRUSES” not “fewer problems”)

    OS X which is rock solid and almost never has to be re-booted, is highly intuitive and easy to use (my three year old son and my 78 year old mother can both do pretty well on it) AND is nice to look at (Life is too short. If you are going to be looking at something all day long, it should at least be nice to look at and easy and fun to use)

    Lots of best of class free software bundled in. The Mac mini includes:

    The iLife fully integrated suite (iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iTunes, and Garage Band – this integration is incredibly important and it is too much to explain all the things that these applications can do interactively here, if you are interested you should look at the website),

    Appleworks for word processing and spreadsheets (and which can save documents in a Microsoft Office compatible format),

    Quicken 2005 to manage your finances and balance your checkbook,

    Address book software which also prints labels,

    the iSync syncronization software to sync your calendar and addresses with your phone or PDA,

    The Safari Internet browser software (which also blocks popups),

    Email software which is also integrated with iPhoto and the Address book,

    Calendar/Scheduling software,

    and my favorite – iChat AV – free video conferencing software which is also best of class, can go to full screen, and is smooth with perfect voice video synchronization.

    They even throw in a couple of games in (Nanosaur 2 and Marble Blast Gold).

    For 499 this sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

    If you want to get a bit fancy and use it as a media center you can also play DVDs or photo slide shows on your TV with it with an S-video adaptor which costs 19 dollars. You could also get the wifi option and an Airport Express and stream music to your stereo or external speakers (although this would get a bit pricier at 79 dollars for the wifi card and 129 for the Airport Express – the stereo or speakers you would need to already have).

  12. Obviously, this STUPID fool has not had a chance to check out the financial result today!!!! Apple shipped over one million Macs last quarter, a 26% increase and the Mac Mini was not even introduced yet!!! Where are all those naysayers of the iPod when it first came out? Where are they now? Is there any accountability from theses idiots? NO! As far as the readers are concern, those so-called “journalists” and “analysts” already got paid for writing those craps but do they ever apology for being wrong?? NOT!!!

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