Analyst: Apple’s new Mac mini ‘a good first step into the living room’

“Apple Computer on Tuesday introduced… a revamped Mac mini aimed at making the pint-sized computer an easy addition to living room entertainment centers,” Jefferson Graham reports for USA Today. “The updated Mac mini units sell for $599 (up from $499) and $799 (formerly $599.) They now have Intel processing chips, which make the computers from 2 to 4 times much faster, Jobs said. The mini was introduced with great fanfare in January 2005 as a low-cost way for Windows PC users to switch to the Apple platform. Apple, which has a whopping 78% share of the digital music device market, has just a 4% to 5% share of the total PC market.”

“Apple won’t say how many Mac minis it has sold. Shawn Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research, estimates sales at 1 to 2 million units — ‘just okay,’ he says. He says the new Intel chips add power, a problem for the first Mac minis. The revamped machines will have greater appeal to consumers, he says, especially with the remote control feature. ‘Apple wants to run the living room,’ he adds. ‘Apple is better positioned there than any of its competitors, but the new mini is missing one important element—there’s no PVR (TiVo like personal video recorder) or TV tuner. It’s not the complete solution,'” Graham reports.

“Microsoft works with Hewlett-Packard, Dell and other computer manufacturers on “entertainment PCs,” which do everything the mini promises, plus record TV shows on some models. However, they sell for over $1,000,” Graham reports. “Van Baker, an analyst with researcher Gartner, says the Microsoft units haven’t caught on with the public because the computers are too large for the living room. The majority of the entertainment PCs, he says, were sold without PVRs. ‘The mini is small enough that people will consider adding it to their living room consoles,’ Baker says. ‘The transition of bringing the computer into the living room won’t happen overnight, but this is a good first step.'”

“Apple vice president Phil Schiller says the company chose not to add PVR functionality to the mini because it would have made the unit too complicated. ‘We’re not trying to replace the TiVo,’ he says. ‘This is about taking the media from your computer and accessing it via the TV.’ To run media from other computers using the Mac mini, other PCs have to store music, videos and TV shows in Apple’s iTunes software. If users listen to music in, say, Musicmatch or Real Player, the Mac mini won’t be able to find the songs,” Graham reports.

Full article here.

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48 Comments

  1. “Apple vice president Phil Schiller says the company chose not to add PVR functionality to the mini because it would have made the unit too complicated.”

    What he really meant was… We chose not to add PVR functionality to the mini because it would have pissed off all of our content partners who agreed to sell their tv shows through our iTMS…

  2. As far as connecting to an HD monitor, the Intel graphics will support it.

    If we’re talking about H.264 decoding, that’s much more processor intensive and the new Mini may not support more than 480p.

    My eMac has a 32MB graphics card yet plays 480p movie trailers no problem.

    Apparently the Intel graphics supports decoding MPEG-2 Hi-Def (which Sony says it prefers to use for Blu-Ray), which is less processor intensive as far as decoding is concerned.

    Is Sony dropping support for Apple’s H.264?

    http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/bluray/about/index.html

    That’s my take, I could be wrong.

  3. To run media from other computers using the Mac mini, other PCs have to store music, videos and TV shows in Apple’s iTunes software. If users listen to music in, say, Musicmatch or Real Player, the Mac mini won’t be able to find the songs,” Graham reports.

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. If the files are in a shared folder on the network, it doesn’t matter if that server is running Windows, Mac or Linux and it most certainly doesn’t matter what program you use to open them, whether it’s QuickTime, MPlayer, VLC, iTunes, Windows Media Player, or whatever the fuck you want. What a fucking moron.

  4. It’s just a really nice extra and I’m glad the Mini has it. No need to make conspiracies out of everything.

    MS Media Center is a flop. Why would Apple want to go there? Not until it’s time to really do a great job of the whole thing, start to finish. Which might be never.

    “f we’re talking about H.264 decoding, that’s much more processor intensive and the new Mini may not support more than 480p.”

    “my not?” Let’s get REAL facts before judging.

  5. I am a massive Apple fan. Love the products and quality but today seemed over-hyped in the media and was somehwat underwhelming. The HiFi, well, you can get the Bose for cheaper – mind you no dock but it looks better.

    As for the Mac Mini, well, I realize why they aren’t developing a PVR device at this point….but that really doesn’t help the Mac Mini, especially with raising the price ($200 US on the high-end version). IMHO, I think this is going to be a possible error in Apple’s pricing. The DVR would have made it a no-brainer however.

    So here is the problem:

    Mac Mini $800
    Monitor $250
    Keyboard/Mighty Mouse $78
    Upgrade HD 120GB 5200rpm $125
    Total $1253 (not including $150 for iSight)

    iMac 17″ $1299
    Has faster processor, 160GB 3.5″ 7200rpm drive, faster (and not integrated) graphics card, Built-in iSight cam

    This seems to be an easy decision. So you get a downgraded computer for the same price (or more if you add a cam) and are primarily paying for the form factor. Too bad considering that before at $599 it made perfect sense.

    While I love all things Apple, am I the only one disappointed today?

  6. Sorry for the typos! And I meant the Bose doesn’t have the remote.

    As well, Apple hired the head of EyeTV last year so the PVR seemed a no brainer. However, for their 30th birthday I am wondering if they are working on an external box that will add PVR functionality to any Mac.

    If not, I would expect EyeTV to come up with a harddrive/pvr/tv tuner in a mac mini form factor. This would be huge if the price was under $300 but I am not holding my breath!

  7. Sorry for the numerous posts. After doing a bunch of research, it seems that Apple would have to have deals with all cable companies in north america for their system to work. Worse than the record labels.

    I did find out that some free apps along with a Cable company’s box that has firewire would give any Mac recording capabilities in MPEG2 format. I am surprised if it is that simple, why Apple has not created their own app to make this work better….or why someone else hasn’t created something with a much simpler gui. I suspect its because you need to record by channel and not by the cable menu…for example – you would have to schedule via some apple scripts in ical the time and channel to record. No dual tuner. And not an intuitive, easy way to use a PVR. I have hear talk of a CableCard or something like that for the PC world but not sure if Apple would ever entertain that.

    It would be nice if iTunes could stream TV over the net like it does Internet Radio.

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