[News.com] Rival PC makers are hoping Apple’s newly minted Mac Mini, which went on sale last Saturday, helps shift consumer tastes to smaller desktops at a time when most people associate “little” with laptops.While interesting, the article totally misses the point on why the Mac mini is getting so much attention. They claim that “to date, the vast majority of consumers purchasing Windows desktops have shown little desire for anything other than a standard mini tower.“While the statement may be totally valid from a sales perspective, I think it’s far more interesting to look at why people haven’t jumped all over the current “choices” for small form factor PCs:

  1. Personal Expression. Something about the aesthetics of an Apple product, such as the Mini or the iPod draws people in. As Ed pointed out a few weeks back: people view them as ‘an extension of themselves just as much as their clothing or interior decoration’. It’s what makes a Moleskine more desirable than a Trapper Keeper.
  2. The Cult. I’m still trying to understand the Cult of the Mac. Perhaps OS/X has some uncanny ability to what Kathy Sierra calls “Creating Playful Work” (what I’d call the Pleasure and Experience), or Apple’s ability to Create Customer Evanglists. Whatever it may be, people have an uncanny desire to be part of a movement (see iPod Nation). Or, maybe it just boils down to what my office-mate Jeff said when he bought his iBook: “I just feel bad for them“.
  3. iLife. I think two articles that I’ve read really understand this.AnandTech review of the Mac Mini: “Apple has been touting iLife as the ‘suite of tightly integrated applications that continues to lead the digital media revolution’ – think of them as the digital media version of Microsoft Office. Instead of creating documents and presentations, you’re recording music and making DVDs.Daring Fireball on Garage Band: “What’s so cool about GarageBand is that it exemplifies the market that Apple is going after. People who want to use their computers to make cool things. People who want to be producers, not just consumers. If it’s possible to distill into a single thought what it is that makes Apple Apple, and what has made the Macintosh so enduringly popular, that’s it.

What’s amazing to me, is how quickly people have started trying to turn the mini into a Home Theater Computer (also check out the AvsForum). The general impression so far is that while “it can be done”, “it ruins the simplicity factor” and has “no digital sound output”.Here’s my question: Why isn’t there a larger Windows Media Center Edition cult? I love my Media Center. The user interface rocks and as I’ve previously said: “Starting up Media Center feels like I’m about to experience something cool and I’m in complete control of it.”For me, the only thing that I don’t like about MCE is that I can’t put it in a case with the size and sexiness of a Mac Mini. But maybe that’s the problem.


5 Comments

    Neil Cowburn (January 27, 2005 @ 10:30 am)

    You want a sleek and sexy looking Media Center PC? Check out the Tranquil T2e

    http://www.tranquilpc.co.uk/mce_2005.htm

    Take a look at the specs: it’s lists “VIA M2 1.2GHz” as its mobo. To me and you that’s a VIA MII 12000 Mini-ITX piece of kit.


    Steve (January 27, 2005 @ 11:06 am)

    Not for that price. $1300 US?

    Perhaps I should have said: “I can’t put it in a case with the size and sexiness AND PRICE of a Mac Mini”


    Mark Finkle (January 27, 2005 @ 12:31 pm)

    For me, price has everything to do with it. I would love to put an MCE machine in my living room home theater, but not for $1300+.

    Why can’t an extender be rigged to work like the server? Something like a P2P MCE system.


    JeffMc (January 27, 2005 @ 1:30 pm)

    As far as 5.1, it ws a shame they did not bring out the same audio as on the Airport Express or new iMacs. However, Griffin does have a FW to 5.1 adapter, that can give you what you need for the home theater. Of course, the Mac mini cannot do Tivo like functions, without additional hardware, etc. So the cost of a Mac mini as a Media Center is probably about the same as a MS version.

    But then again, the Mac doesn’t run a Windows OS, and that may be its strength :)


    John (October 25, 2005 @ 11:03 am)

    For me the main reason I’ve avoided MCE is the proprietary video format. I can’t do anything with it. Other solutions like Sage aren’t as slick but at least they save in standard mpeg2. I can edit it, transcode it to Divx, Xvid, what-ever for archive or burn it straight to disc.

    Now with Xbox 360 coming out, with slick extender functionality built in, I may have to re-think this. Anyone know of a way to convert the MCE video format to something useful?


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