Apple upgrades Mac mini without announcement

“Consumers who buy a Mac Mini this week may or may not end up with a machine that’s faster than the desktop Apple Computer was selling in prior weeks,” Ina Fried reports for CNET News. “The company confirmed to CNET News.com that it has started offering machines that in some cases have improved processing powers and other enhancements. However, Apple is not labeling the new machines in any special way, so buyers have no way of knowing if they are getting the more capable models.”

“‘Some Mac Mini systems may contain components that slightly exceed the published specifications,’ Apple said in a statement. ‘There are no changes to the published specifications or part numbers,'” Fried reports. “Industry watchers were confounded by Apple’s decision not to explicitly label the upgraded models. ‘It doesn’t make sense to me why they would do this,’ said Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal, who added that Apple’s tactic creates something akin to a ‘grab bag.’ An Apple representative was not immediately able to say why the company decided to handle things as it has.”

More details in the full article here.

Think Secret reports, “One source reported receiving a 1.5GHz Mac mini Tuesday, although the box still featured the old 1.42GHz label… The SuperDrive equipped Mac mini features a new 8x dual-layer SuperDrive from Matshita (Panasonic)… The Mac mini’s graphics card remains an ATI Radeon 9200 but now features double the VRAM at 64MB. The video card remains incapable of supporting Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger’s Core Image technology. The hard drives have also been upgraded to 5,400-rpm models… the new Mac mini features Bluetooth 2.0+EDR support.”

Think Secret reports, “Sources have informed Think Secret that Mac mini box labels will continue to list the older specifications with no indication of whether the newer or older systems are contained within. The motivation behind this is to help clear current inventory without lowering prices. Essentially, customers are promised that the Mac mini they purchase will have specifications “at least” equal to the label, but that their system may exceed those. Customers who purchase a new Mac mini to find they ended up with the older configuration will not be able to return the system in the hopes of getting the newer configuration without paying a restocking fee.”

More details in the full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Report: significant Apple Mac mini update imminent – September 27, 2005
RUMOR: Apple to introduce faster Mac mini models soon – September 21, 2005

54 Comments

  1. JohnE,

    I kind of like it. You know what you’re buying upfront, but you have the chance to get a “Super Mac mini,” if you’re lucky. This probably won’t last more than a week or two and then all of the Mac mini units will be the new ones.

  2. JohnE: As an informed buyer (of which there are relatively few of us, btw), all you have to do is wait a month or so, and buy from a popular, fast moving channel (like maybe Apple’s on-line store). Most customers will never know the difference.

  3. Seems like a dumb way to handle inventory issues, especially since Apple is proud of maintaining a low number of days of product in the chain. Best approach would be to discount the limited quantity of “version 1” Mac mini inventory and release the new version with updated packaging.

    On the other hand, perhaps this is just an interim step in the mini upgrade path. If so, then it might be smart to avoid the cost of updating the packaging, etc. until a significant revision is released.

    The risk is that some uninformed purchasers of Mac minis will feel cheated and start a website complaining about it (outdatedmacmini.com).

  4. …and it’s not a good practice to assume that your customers either don’t care or are just dumb uninformed buyers (especially, in the Mac community where any little scratch can create a firestorm)

  5. Apple is shooting itself in the foot with this decision, which is unprecedented. The differences in specs are very significant, starting with the faster hard drive. This is going to harm the company’s reputation: from now on, who is going to believe the specs on the box of future products? Just having to handle consumer complaints is going to cost more money than taking a hit on outdated mini stock, not to mention negative advertising. The big question for me is: Who made this decision? Will we ever find out???

  6. This is probably being caused by Freescale cleaning out its inventory of processors.

    The actual performance differences between these CPUs is barely measureable. It will only matter to the more anal customer. Thankfully there are very, VERY, very few of them.

  7. Honestly, with such meager improvements, no one is going to notice the difference – at least, not the target market of Mac minis. Why both with relabeling a box? Plus, the old inventory will probably be cleared out within a couple weeks as was mentioned earlier. Just wait a few if you do plan on buying one.

  8. Dudes,

    Get a grip. Apple is selling X for a listed price. If you get lucky, you get X+ for that price. If not, you knew what you were buying anyway.

    I see no harm. It’s a nice little bonus surprise.

    The average Windows-only schlub buying a Mac mini to use with his/her Gateway monitor, keyboard, and mouse just recently began to become informed, but probably not informed enough yet even know if they got the upgraded Mac mini or not.

    Either way, they paid for X and they received exactly what they paid for (or more if they were lucky).

  9. If cnet’s take on the what and why of this mini-upgrade is correct, Jobs recent rank against the record companies was particularly hypocritical. How greedy is it to squeeze out a little more profit by keeping your customers ignorant of the computer’s specs?

  10. I got one of the new Mac minis! I ordered it for my parents – I finally convinced them to give up the Windows ghost. 1.5GHz G4, 64MB Radeon 9200, 5400rpm HD, 8x dual-layer SuperDrive, etc. It came in a box with the old specs. Ordered from Apple Store last week.

    What a nice surprise! I wouldn’t have been too disappointed if I got the “old” mini, though – that’s what I ordered, after all.

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