Mac Mini: even more affordable?

I still like the Mac Mini, even if there are no mic/line-in connectors (misjudgement on Apple’s part IMHO). Anyways, there could have been an even cheaper model. Here are the difference for this cheaper model I thought of in comparison to the existing models:

* 1.0 GHz G4
* DVD-ROM
* 30 GB hard drive
* VGA-only connector
* No bundled iLife

Price: $399 USD (349 EUR)

Now, two things to consider here:

1. There are people (e.g. my cousins) who simply need some basic internet connection, do some basic photo stuff and watch DVDs. They don’t need to burn data CDs (USB keys are cooler) and they don’t need all this hard space as they don’t have a camcorder. And by not bundling iLife, it will save money to Apple, as the basic versions of iMovie, iPhoto and iTunes are already included in Mac OS X anyway, so the kind of user I am talking about won’t miss much! Additionally, people who would opt for such a cheap machine wouldn’t need a DVI connector as they would never afford to buy a good LCD monitor. And so Apple, could save a few more bucks on the connector and the external vga adapter found on the current mac minis. I am leaving unchanged the Firewire connector and Radeon9200 card to this cheaper Mac Mini, even if an even cheaper gfx card or no firewire connector could save a few more bucks to Apple, because it’s much more expensive to create another factory line for a different case and even more for a different motherboard.

2. Apple’s policy is to always have the same price in regards to Dollars and Euros for all products. That is, a $999 USD product, also costs 999 Euros in Europe, no matter if the Euro costs $1.4 US dollars! Here, I suggest that this imaginary low-low-end Mac Mini costs a bit less in Europe just for a strategic reason: Apple’s presence in Europe is WEAK. I showed up with my Powerbook in Preveza, Greece and people were looking at it like it was from space! Apple needs that “lower price” strategy EVEN more in Europe than in America! And don’t forget, people are getting paid less in Europe in their jobs. Therefore, having this particular entry level Mac a bit cheaper in Europe, could help Apple in the long run to make a bigger stronghold in Europe. In fact, an idea would be to make such a product available everywhere except in the US, UK and Japan (so this model wouldn’t cannibalize the higher-end Macs in these richer countries). There are many products by other companies that are strictly non-US products for similar strategic reasons. Apple could play that game too, just like Microsoft did with the “Windows Starter Edition” for poorer countries!

Some people who read this blog will say such a low-low-end Mac is not modern or fast enough. But thing is, people who read my blog are actually big tech heads and they would never buy such a low end machine indeed (I know I wouldn’t). But there are many people, who definetely would, because they don’t need much more and because, well, they are poorer, or simply, they just want to quickly “try out the Mac”, having being PC users all their lives.

On the downside, a full $100 off for this imaginary Mac Mini is probably not realistic for Apple at this point. Objectively speaking, Apple is probably getting the 1 Ghz and 1.25 Ghz G4s with no more price difference than just a few dollars, the DVD-ROM with a combo drive is less than $5 these days in the OEM circles, the 30/40 GBs of hard drive are also less than $6 and iLife costs practically nothing for Apple to include it for free. So overall, such a suggested machine would never cost less than $460 USD (trying to keep the same profit margins as the real Mac Minis, about 20%). And so, for $40 bucks, you are better off to get the $499 model anyway and forget this blog entry as it is nothing but a moot point. But we can still dream, can’t we?

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