Screwdrivers vs. Couture

The appeal of the Mac Mini is totally lost on me. It's an underpowered, expensive box-- like every other computer Apple has ever introduced. And yet, a certain contingent of PC users are buying this thing on release day. I never understood that.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Those are some good points.

But I’m surprised that the “appeal of the Mac Mini really was incomprehensible” to you. A large proportion of Mac users are in it for the software as much as the hardware. The Mac Mini comes with iLife and other pre-loaded software. An estimated $450 worth of software if you look at individual retail price.

I honestly believe the appeal comes largely from the software “experience”, it is this experience that Ed’s comparison forgot to mention.

P.S. I don’t own a Mac, never owned a Mac, but probably would if they weren’t so expensive :wink:

The fashion aspect is only one factor, but it seems to be the one upon which most PC users like to focus. This comparison fails to mention that for many people the Mac is a screwdriver. Out of the box, it will hop on a wireless or wired network. Driver issues are rare. Viruses are non-existant. I have no need for a program to search and destory spyware. And finding the software you need is no longer a problem.

I don’t see how people can shrug at the Mac Mini. It’s a notoriously expensive computer priced at $500. By the way, I am a Mac guy, but I wasn’t always this way.

I, too, am baffled by the appeal of the mac mini. First off, the chip is a previous gen G4 (1.42ghz). The memory is just 256 mb. Go over to fry’s and see how the mac crawls with 256 mb. Maybe it’s faster with the MacMini, I don’t know. No DVD burner.

It’s like Dell was selling a PC with 1.4 Pentium 3 chip and charging just $500. It would never fly.
They do sell a cheap Celeron 2.4Ghz for $399, but there is no hoopla surrounding this event.

I think Mac Mini will appeal to people who already have Windows workstations and who want to play with OS X. If you have $500, a KVM switch, and a tiny bit of desk space, you can have a decent second workstation (that can both double as a Unix server and make people go “Ooh! Ahh!”).

(We’re buying one for our entertainment center.)

My thoughts here:

First off, the chip is a previous gen G4 (1.42ghz). The memory is just 256 mb. Go over to fry’s and see how the mac crawls with 256 mb. Maybe it’s faster with the MacMini, I don’t know. No DVD burner.

  • it’s actually 1.25ghz unless you pony up an additional $100.
  • the hard drive is a 4200rpm model.
  • the lowest-of-the-low-end 32mb Radeon video card likely can’t handle the heavy 3D OpenGL acceleration necessary for an OS that relies on OpenGL effects for a lot of its prettiness
  • WindowsXP runs like crap on 256mb, I can only imagine how badly OSX will run with that

You could probably buy a wintel laptop for the same price with better hardware. And that includes the display, obviously.

[appeal to people] who already have Windows workstations and who want to play with OS X

It definitely would appeal to me if OSX ran on x86.

If you want to play around, check out PearPC. I have Mac OS/X 10.3 installed (running in a window on my XP box) for awhile:

I’m not sure I see Macs as underpowered and expensive. IBM compatibles are just overpowered and cheap. I mean, IBM compatibles have to be cheap - if they weren’t, people would just buy the parts themselves and build them. And they really are overpowered - a lot of a computer’s capability is wasted. I mean, it’s okay if you’re compiling code, or running through complex math, but is three and a half gigahertz really necessary for word processing? Web browsing? I imagine the clockspeed of a computer only matters to the enduser when they’re waiting for Windows to load.

Oh, and OS X does not rely on OpenGL. Quartz Extreme is optional. Plus, most Mac games available are years old, so the video card doesn’t matter that much. And OS X is not XP. It works fine with 256, IIRC. And if OS X ran on x86, it wouldn’t run on yours; Apple wouldn’t want to sacrifice stability by letting the user install their OS on just any computer. Plus, there’s the profit to think about…

This is frickin’ priceless:

If you want to play with OS X, do what i did. I bought an older, used G4 Power PC for $200.

Right. I’m running a five-year-old 2.4GHz screwdriver. I’ve added some memory over the years (translation: resharpened the bit), and it still drives screws quite well. It doesn’t fit some of the fancy new screws (games). It’s not as fast as some high end models, but it does everything I need. If it didn’t I’d be over at some big-box store looking for the cheapest machine that would do the job. I wouldn’t care if it looked like a captcha.

Cool, I expect to see your next post be about how much fun you had tweaking your *nix box after dumping Vista.

I get it, macs are for the upper class snobs, and PCs are for us proles!

I’m afraid I don’t have much respect for Ed Stroglio’s analysis. He may be right about the snob vs. the proles aspect, but he doesn’t have to sound so snobbish about it! :slight_smile:

You are forgetting the MacMini media center crowd. You can’t build a desktop PC as small as a MacMini. It’s a full PC that is smaller then most game consoles. What would you rather try to stick in your living room (OS aside) to play back video, a desktop or a tiny little MacMini?

This post basically mirrors my position on mac users and owners that I’ve held for some time, with the iProduct graphic hitting it on the head.

What Jobs has managed to do with Apple is create a “Guilt-free” brand for the Mac buyer, and within Apple culture in general. By choosing a machine that has the smaller market share, it gives the person the self-fulfilling notion that they’ve chosen the “better” option because they can make the claim that they are not “following the crowd.” The bitten apple logo on a machine, in my opinion, is the computer world’s version of the Starbuck’s mermaid logo for coffee products, and the Nike Swoosh for athletic shoes. Let’s face it, Macs are “trendy”.

Aside from the “It just works/No viruses/Mac is better because it’s not Windows” arguments I get all the time from Mac evangelists, the one other common argument I hear (and have yet to be given any backing for) is that Macs are better for Graphic Design/Video Editing/(Insert Creative Outlet Here). Period. Now I’ve used editing tools on both Mac and Win, and the graphics that get exported in Mac, look just the same as when their displayed a non-Mac machine. Now, if you want to argue that there are particular Mac-only pieces of design software out there that are easy/extremely productive and powerful/etc, then I’ll accept that, but that doesn’t prove Mac is superior over Win, just that software developers that create these design tools are choosing to make them exclusively available to Mac.

I will concede that Apple does from time to time make strides in innovation (iPhone), but had the phone been made by some other developer/manufacturer, I doubt people would as easily rationalize paying upwards of $700 for a phone that most likely will be made obsolete in less than 2 years by it’s next gen model.

In closing, great article Jeff as always, and I’m looking forward to more.

I got one for Boxee. The founder of the company said they are the most well suited for it, etc, etc.

I have to say, it basically did what I needed it to do in terms of a media center right out of the box, and I can’t imagine a PC being as nice to work with for this purpose.

The same thing goes for the Mac laptops. I would never use a Mac for my primary workstation, because I’m much, much faster on a PC when doing work, writing things, etc. But, as a Laptop, Macs seem much better suited. Their OS is simply friendlier to the trackpad. All my main programs are gigantic icons at the bottom of the screen, and when I want to sort windows, I just shoot my cursor over to the upper-right corner of the screen which is set to sort my screens via expose. It then makes my windows gigantic icons that are easy to find and click with a track pad.

You have to be much more exact with a PC, which is better suited to an external mouse input. You can’t just easily sort your windows into gigantic icons, you have to hunt for them on the start bar. To access any program, you have to get to your desktop to find an icon, or you have to go through the start menu. All of these require you to be very exact with your mouse movements, which sucks with a trackpad. On a workstation with an external mouse and keyboard, this is fine, and perfect. For a laptop, it is horrible.

Stuff like Jolicloud looks to be promising for netbooks, but OSX is still wonderful for laptops overall.

Kinda curious what your thoughts are now, considering the new landscape of development on Apple’s platform (iPhone especially).

Nowadays, $650 gets you a Mac Mini with a 2Ghz Core 2 Duo, 2GB DDR3-1066 ram, 120GB hard drive, and Nvidia 9400M with 256MB video memory. Add to that the cost of the iPhone Developer Program and you’re developing iPhone apps in your spare time for under $900.

I got 1 problem with Apple apart from them developing snobbish, trendy, metrosexual gadgets:

The shit on open-source and the free market.