CBS News: Mac mini cheap enough for Windows users, still ‘Mac’ enough for Mac aficionados

“Hearing the hype about Apple’s new $499 Macintosh gave me pause. Could Apple, which is known as the BMW of computer companies, really come out with a machine cheap enough to tempt Windows users yet still ‘Mac’ enough to satisfy Macintosh aficionados? After unpacking and setting up the new machine, the answer is a qualified yes,” Larry Magid writes for CBS News.

“I cannibalized some of my old Windows PCs to come up with a Gateway monitor, a Dell mouse and a Compaq keyboard, all of which worked perfectly with the new Mac. That’s no accident. Apple hopes to win over frustrated Windows users who already have these peripherals connected to an old PC,” Magid writes.

“In keeping with the theme of encouraging Windows users to switch, I configured the Mac Mini to access files on my Windows network and copied over hundreds of digital photos, Excel spreadsheets, Microsoft Word documents and music files. The Word files worked fine with the version of Mac Word while iPhoto did a fine job handling my PC’s pictures. iTunes, as advertised, works on the Mac, just as it does on the PC,” Magid writes. “While the Mac Mini won’t suddenly make Macs a more popular platform than Windows, I think it may tempt many Windows users who are curious about the Mac and/or frustrated with Windows which is far more prone to spyware, viruses and security problems. Some Windows users might wind up liking the Mini so much that they wind up becoming life-long Mac users while others may use it as their second computer — perhaps to surf the web, check email and edit digital photos. Now my home office — with its Widows machine and Mac Mini — is a little like my friend Peter’s garage that houses a Mercedes and a Ford. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which computer most resembles which vehicle.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Magid asks if Apple could “really come out with a machine cheap enough to tempt Windows users yet still ‘Mac’ enough to satisfy Macintosh aficionados?” Here’s another example of a writer fixated on exterior case design instead of realizing that “it’s the software, stupid.” Apple is partly to blame for this, with their advertising and focus on design; some people who’ve never used a Mac or the software that comes with a Mac think that the look of the computer’s case is what makes it a Mac. They think Mac users like to “spend too much for pretty cases” or some such tripe. Yes, Mac users would rather their computers didn’t look like some pile of parts that just rolled off some Wintel box assembler’s assembly line, but as long as it runs Mac OS X and Mac software, it’s “Mac enough” for us. Think back to Power Computing, DayStar or Umax Mac clones – we bought Macs in some damn ugly cases, uglier than even some Wintel assembler’s boxes.

Magid also throws in the good old “it won’t make Macs a more popular platform than Windows” statement, which we always see as a self-comforting defense mechanism. Really, what is the purpose of this sentence other than to comfort Windows users who feel threatened for some reason? After all, most Joe and Jane six packs use their computers to surf the web, trade email, do a little word processing, maybe play with some digital photos, and run iTunes, all of which the Mac does better than Windows. Still, any article that reaches a large number of “average” computer users that says good things about the Mac mini is a Good Thing™.


  1. “Cheap enough for Windows users…” ZING! Ouch, that’s got to hurt. They’re known for how cheap they are. What a hoot.

    …and the MDN Magic Word is WINDOW! No joke!

  2. david,

    MDN are hardly “freaking out,” they are dissecting the article as always and pointing out some issues of interest.

    Do you not agree with MDN’s take? If you don’t agree, why?

  3. david,

    Nothing wrong? You clearly aren’t looking close enough. This article is dripping with subliminal insults. I’m steaming just thinking about all the inaccuracies that the author may be indirectly implying.

  4. I think Apple “are” brilliant. I want to say Apples are brilliant, but whatever it’s the new English.

    I think it’s Insanely Great that PC pundits are cannibalizing their PCs to finish building their new Macs. I swapped my PC’s 512MB RAM chip in my mini. XP will run my wife’s stuff well enough with 256MB of ram.

    Besides, now she can use my (I mean her) PowerBook for almost everything without turning on that energy hog.

    So not only are people getting a Mac, but they are downgrading their PCs in preparation of shutting them down altogether.

  5. I don’t think Magid was “fixated on exterior case design instead of realizing that “it’s the software, stupid.”

    When he says “‘Mac’ enough to satisfy Macintosh aficionados” I think he meant the whole Mac experience including design, software, and the OS, not just the exterior case. Consider the statement he makes later in the article…

    “iPhoto, Apple’s excellent personal editing and photo organizing program that comes free with the new Mac. The Mac Mini also comes with the rest of Apple’s highly regarded iLife programs”

    -He apparently does in fact realize the importance of good software. He says the software is highly regarded, but he never refers to the design as being highly regarded.

    Regarding what is considered “Mac enough for us”, I would be quite disappointed if the next line of Macs came in Dell-like boxes. Knowing what Apple is capable of, if it suddenly started rolling out crap designs, it would be quite a let-down and frankly not be Mac enough for me.

    And when he states “While the Mac Mini won’t suddenly make Macs a more popular platform than Windows…” I don’t believe that to be at all a “self-comforting defense mechanism.” It’s a completely accurate and true statment. It’s going to take much more than the Mac Mini to convert the masses to a Mac, which may never even happen. Obviously, the best software is not always the most popular, which is all that Magid was saying.

    Usually I completely agree with the MDN take, but this one seemed a bit too critical of a completely honest article.

  6. Between the Lines,
    I posted what I didn’t agree with regarding MDN’s take. Did I look to closely because I didn’t see all of the subliminal conspiracy messages that you are alluding to.

  7. What does “still ‘Mac’ enough” even mean. It is all about the software and a Mac Mini works like my G4. The major difference is the form factor and video card.

    If you ask me “still ‘Mac’ enough” implies it’s not compatible.

    This is an extremely powerful machine. I’d like to see a $349.00 dell machine run Maya right out of the box. I’d like to see it capture video from a camcorder, import it, edit it and write it back out to the camcorder. A DVD writer is not necessary to take advantage of iMovie.

    What gets me is these writers qualify the positive aspects of this computer. For example saying “most” consumers needs. Hell, I would say it handles them all, and quite nicely. No qualification needed.

    I guess they are conflicted, having seen the light but still being in the denial stage. Wait until they are still using this Mac Mini in 5 years time, without having to have upgraded it.

  8. I have one problem with the Mac mini and any real “Macintosh aficionado” should feel the same:

    It doesn’t come with a one button mouse!

    How can this even be considered a real Mac?

  9. That was a great pro-Mac Article from a dyed in the wool windozer. Who could ask for more? We have to let the switchers save face and not rub it in. Just relax and let them find out how great the water is for themselves. Maybe show them a few strokes or a fancy dive to get them inspired.

    The major thing that has been holding back more people from switching has been just not knowing and getting used to OS X. After a bunch of people get a mini like this guy and start using it for surfing the web and email (more secure right?) gradually they will find themselves turning on their PCs less and less. Mostly for games probably. And when the market share goes up on Macs you are going to be seeing a shift in the game arena also. It will take a year or two but if the user base goes up it will be inevitable.

    It’s happening folks. I am sooo glad Steve Jobs came back. How does the timeline for the second coming compare to the first anyway? How many years did it take from the very start for Steve to change the world? 6 or 7? Seems to be a patter forming here.

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  10. I see both sides of the arguement here. Is the article a positive review, or a negative one.

    At first I thought it was positive, but upon further review I would have to say that although the writer basically says the Mac mini works for him, it is almost like he is saying it inspite of the fact it’s a Mac. It does have a funny mood to it that is slightly condescending even though it contains positive remakes.

    I think what MDN is getting at is that PC reviewers are having a hard time warming up to the Mac and accepting that its a great little machine. This is becoming a comon tend, because others have writen similar reviews where they use the Mac mini, like it, and have made it a permanent fixture on their desk, yet they can’t seem to put in to word the respect it has earned from them. I personally think that they just don’t want to jump the PC ship in a single article, and distance their readers. Imagine if MS came out with a new machine (and OS) that was actually really good, and a good value. If MDN reviewed it and said “WOW it’s great, I’m a conveted computer user” we’d all have a heart attack!

  11. Originally by knock knock

    So not only are people getting a Mac, but they are downgrading their PCs in preparation of shutting them down altogether.

    So the mac mini really is a trojan pony because by buying one the average pc user will most likely be too tight to buy a keyboard, mouse and screen and probably don’t even know what a kvm switch is.
    None of those users are going to switch peripherals from one machine to the other for very long, if at all.

    It is like the story with digital cameras.
    Many photographers have bought them to see what all the fuss is about and then 12 months later realise they can’t even remember where their film camera is.

  12. man curian candi date – BTW you’ve misspelled Manchurian

    How much effort does it take you to be such an idiot?

    if you don’t agree with a poster just say so dude.

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