January 27, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Will Mac Mini spur petite-PC revolution?

Apple Computer isn't the only company with big hopes for small computers.

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.

"I love the product. I think it's beautiful," said Tom Anderson, vice president of marketing for the Consumer PC Global Business Unit at Hewlett-Packard. "If it started a trend of small (desktops)...I'd be very happy about that. It would be a reason for someone to consider a desktop."


What's new:
Windows PC makers are closely following consumer interest in Apple's Mac Mini and hoping to piggyback on the product's success if sales soar.

Bottom line:
So far, big-name PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard have had little success with small desktops. Could the newly unveiled Mac Mini change all that?

More stories on desktop sales

Big-name PC makers such as HP have so far had little success with small desktops, but the tiny Apple could well create enough buzz to spark new interest among consumers, some executives said.

Most buyers tend to purchase PCs based more on price and quality of technical support than on design, analysts said. Yet executives such as HP's Anderson see a market for unobtrusive desktops that consumers would purchase as second or third computers and use in settings such as kitchens, where large desktops are impractical. Such PCs would have to be small and able to blend in, considerations that would likely prove more important than the number of CD drives the desktops could incorporate.

Anderson and others said they believe miniature desktops will eventually take off in the United States and Europe, as they have in Asia.

Though mini PCs have primarily caught on at business call centers and among enthusiasts who build their own machines, buyers have opened their wallets for small desktops from companies such as Shuttle and Little PC. Touchdown Industries even appeals to sports fans with a tiny machine that fits inside a football helmet. Meanwhile, some consumers have reported interest in using the Mac Mini for home entertainment, while others envision it providing Internet access in living rooms and kitchens.

CNET News.com reader Doran Else said he wants to purchase a Mac Mini to eliminate the need for regular Windows updates. If the first Mini serves him well, he said, he'd like to add a second one so he can access the Internet in his kitchen.

But minis will face a formidable challenge in the thriving portable market.

Although the trend isn't expected to last forever, growth in unit sales of notebook PCs at retail has outpaced that of desktops for some time. During the 2004 holiday season alone, retail sales of notebooks in the United States leaped 26 percent, preliminary data from The NPD Group shows. Moreover, unit sales growth in the $1,000 notebook category corresponded with slower sales in the $600 to $1,000 desktop PC category, said Steve Baker, an analyst with NPD.

"People who are adding to their home inventory (of PCs) are going to want something different," Baker said. "Most people don't have two great big TVs. They've usually got one big one and the kids might have one and maybe there's a 13-inch in the kitchen. People try to fit the value to the task that product is going to perform. I think more and more you'll see PCs have that effect."

The diminutive Mac arrives at a time when most Windows-based desktop machines offer the same basic elements, including at least two 5.25-inch bays for CD or DVD drives, a floppy drive, a series of front-mounted ports for headphones and other peripherals, as well as a memory card reader. Currently, designing a desktop has more to do with choosing parts to hit a specific price than creating a thing of beauty.

But a movement to miniature desktops would elevate the importance

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RE: Will Mac Mini spur petite-PC revolution?
Of course, it would seem this article ignores the entire reason why Apple is doing this: to entice more Windows users to try a Mac.

Now, will this spur the growth of the micro-PC segment? Who knows. I happen to have built a Shuttle XPC running Mandrake 10.1/WinXP Pro SP2 because I needed compactness (and wanted some tasteful asthetics) more than I needed a large case and expandability.

Perhaps this article *should* have asked the question: "Will Mac Mini spur users to try a non-Microsoft OS?"
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
You raise a good point.
I don't think it will so much come down to hardware in the end (which, no one makes a better hardware product than Apple does).

I think people will start wondering why there really are so many people talking about OS X. Yes, even Linux has its own advantage, although software support for Linux is almost non-existant when it comes to digital media.

I think Apple's "estimated market share of 3%" is HUGELY underestimated, as most Mac users keep their machines for four years as opposed to two years with a PC. So, sure PC manufacturers are selling mor e PC's, but that's because they can't hold a life expectancy like a Mac can.

I'm sure the Mac mini will open the eyes of people to new alternatives. And let's face it, Panther (OS X.3) is a sexy beast. And from what I've seen of it, Tiger is looking even better.
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
Whats the Big Deal on Small Computers?
These small form PCs have been out for many years. Anyone who has worked with embedded PCs knows this. Typically, they were for applications that run some RTOS and do not require intensive CPU power. In the last few years, we have seen applications that require more CPU power and enhanced connectivity. Our firm has been using P4 machines from www.littlepc.com, for a couple of years so these small computers are not new. We securely bolt them into our Kiosk designs. May not look as pretty as a MAC but they stand-up to 24/7 use in a public space
Posted by lookoutmama (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Little PC model wins hands down with functionality and features
Although that Little PC model isn't the most aesthetically pleasing, its functionality and features look the best.

If you look on their website - <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.littlepc.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.littlepc.com/</a> - they have all kind of different models with different features like PCMCIA, compact flash, multiple lan ports, fanless, wireless and they even have one model where you can stick in a mini pci card. All with pretty decent cpus powering them.

They are more industry specific though their website states they serve industrial, commercial, scientific, government and military clients around the world.
Posted by (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Little PC" has a BIG pricetag!
Checking the specs are impressive &lt;<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.littlepc.com/products_p4littlepc_401X.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.littlepc.com/products_p4littlepc_401X.htm</a>&gt; but if you check the price, you'll find the BASE price is over $1000!

Not to mention that no matter how much you drss up a Windows computer, you're still running (rebooting, maintaining, cleaning, reformatting) a Windows computer.
Posted by sanjef (31 comments )
Link Flag
Little PC still runs windows....which is kind of the point of the
mac mini, it doesn't. Macs are great hardware-wise, but you
have to look past that to the OS and software. Generally PC
users (myself included in the past) can't see past specs at all,
because they allll have windows and that's it.
Posted by (3 comments )
Link Flag
Little PC costs START at $1095 vs $499 Mini
And that is using a Celeron!

While you were making a comparison based on features, you
seem to have overlooked the price of the Little PCs you point to.

So contary to you headline, "Little PC model wins hands down
with functionality and features", It doesn't becuase you "forgot"
to mention the cost, which is largely why this is news for Apple.
The Mac Mini is very competitive AND it includes Panther which
is virus free, and iLife.
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
Mac Mini PC, a replacement unlikely
When you purchase a PC, you want something that you can add stuff into. Let say a TV tuner card, extra network card if you want to multihome your tower and maybe make it into a firewall on your network.

Also, desktops are mostly upgradable unless you purchase a proprietary system on the market.

This Mac Mini PC (As a certified computer and network technician) in my view is a joke.

Where is the processing power? Can this until be upgraded. What about using it in the server market?

I don't think MacIntosh has really put much thought into this item. It is more of a novelty item.

Maybe MacIntosh should try to make a move more and more to the cross-platform of operating systems and design a computer that will accept it.

Their systems are meant for stability, unlike the PC market and their clones. I think that they should try to make advancements elsewhere.
Posted by talgambit (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get your facts straight
First of all, Macintosh is the product, not the Company. Apple
created the Macintosh Mini (Mac Mini) to be a low-end, switcher

People tired with dealing with windows, or wanting to try Mac OS
X can inexpensively add the machine to their existing
peripherals. It was never intended to service the server industry
or power users.

I recommend that you go to a local Apple store or a store that
sells Apple products and try it.
Posted by zarathustra911 (35 comments )
Link Flag
It's not a power machine it's a sub $900 PC replacement
Since when did you ever implement a Server class PC that cost $500? Do you use laptop PC's as servers too? I hope for your credibility sake, the answer to both is never!

Let's see it for what this machine is, it's a computer built like a laptop without a screen.

It's aimed at the same market that walks into BestBuy/CompUSA/Target/Walmart looking for a computer that accomplishes basic PC functionality. And they're typically cheap! They don't care about 'upgrading', in fact many sub-$1000 PC's I've purchased over the years had an "opening VOID's warranty" sticker on them...

But since it's a Mac, you also forgo the necessity to run anti-virus, anti-spyware, and it comes complete with an easy to use OS and full software packages (not demoware).

This is a quote from James Lileks, columist for the Star Tribune, that sums up what we all know...

if you like your PC, good for you. On the other hand: If your machine is useless because you somehow contracted malware / spyware / adware, and every time you try to use the Internet your machine sends you to sites that would make the Marquis De Sade think well, that's different, you might want to look at a Mac.

This is why families need a MAC, corporations don't.... or not yet...
Posted by (21 comments )
Link Flag
Other side of the coin
"This Mac Mini PC (As a certified computer and network technician) in my view is a joke."

Maybe so, but it wasn't designed for that. It was designed like it is as a way to lure PC/Windows users over to MAC.

In my case, I may pick up a mini but I won't switch. I'll just add it to my bag or tricks.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
OMG Where have YOU been?
XServer, RAID, SAN, G5 iMac, G5 Dual, PowerBook, iBook

The mini-mac is just ONE product from Apple. Where do you
people get off thinking that mac should make nothing but cheap
computers?! None of your other "dear" PC manufactures does

Bottom-line, if you want stability, longevity, and a hell of a
solution for a personal computer, you can only do worse by NOT
choosing a mac.

Gamers are in a different league, because a mini-mac is not
going to cut, and we all know that they don't want to be new
games. You married to the game, then you are married to the
systems they best run on, and connect to your favorite game

The fact of the matter is you don't want you kid brother/sister/
mom/guests running around on your game machine anyway.
Do them, and yourself a huge favor. Plug a miniMac into your
HDTV and go to your room.
Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Link Flag
Tech support PC vs Mac
I can usually fix any Mac problem in 10 to 15 minutes, A pc on
the other hand usually takes about an hour. Often times, I will
just reload the windows operating system rather than try to
waste time trying to figure out if it is a driver or an os or app
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Chinese mini-PCs run Linux, target specialty apps
A systems integrator in GuangDong province, China, is shipping an extensive line of Pentium-based miniPCs that run Linux. The SD-Omega MiniPC line comprises 44 variations, include passively cooled and quiet models targeting car PCs and HTPCs (home-theater PCs), car pcs, and DVR models.

More details from Linuxdevices.com, <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS3892602873.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS3892602873.html</a> or sd-omega wesite <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sd-omega.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.sd-omega.com</a>

Additional details are available at the SD-Omega mini pc website,<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sd-omega.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.sd-omega.com</a>
Posted by JackeOwen (2 comments )
Link Flag
It's not the size of the mini, it's the experience.
The point is being missed. The Mac mini is not just some nice
looking little computer. It is a vehicle that allows the millions of
people that are fed up with viruses and spyware to escape.
Affordably. To allow the many curious PC users who use and
love iTunes and/or have seen a glimpse of OS X in the Apple
stores a chance to experience OS X first hand. AFFORDABLY.

The INCLUDED iPhoto, iMovie, Garagebaand and iDVD (as well as
iTunes and secure, annoyance-free email and web browsing) is
worth the price alone.

When the Mac mini "takes off", small Windows PC sales will not
be affected. The size will not be the reason for it's success. It's
the experience of it provides for the cost.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Will somebody please write a virus for the Mac? I am getting tired of the whole "people are tired of the viruses" as a reason for buying a Mac.

I'll be happy to admit that Macs are pretty nice machines and the new OS shows a lot of promise, especially Tiger.

But that argument is just plain lame. I have never been infected. I run spyware detection tools and a good virus program, and let the Windows updates install themselves.. it's not like it's a chore to keep my computer relatively safe.

Am I tired of viruses? Yes, but they are the ones on other people's computers that are causing me to become weary. All the idiots whose boxes have been turned into zombies sending me spam. And those are the people who really need to switch to the Mac so they won't get infected.

If I changed to a Mac today, I would still get all that garbage. (In Tiger, the mail program's option to divert all mail with attachments to a folder is a cool feature I've not yet seen in other mail programs, but a mail program does not alone make it worth switching.)

Everything I've read is that by the time you trick out the Mini to the way you want it, it's closer to $1,300. Even Apple's website recommend $2,000 monitors on your $500 computer.

With all the software, the Mac is getting more appealing. But I will always need a good PC for gaming. Any Mac will be a third or fourth computer for me.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Link Flag
The problem.
The problem is as users switch so will the malcontents that are creating the malware/virus crap that Windows is dealing with.

And as the user base grows in the MAC the user experience (tech savy) will drop over all due to the influx of users that are uneducated, clueless or don't care.

When that happens the crap will start to come in.

Due to the way I've been told the MAC OS handles user access the stuff that effects windows won't work, but that doesn't mean that there isnt a way to do it. And if there is a way, if will be found and used. (Sadly)
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
No more updates!
&gt; NET News.com reader Doran Else said he wants to
&gt; purchase a Mac Mini to eliminate the need for
&gt; regular Windows updates. If the first Mini
&gt; serves him well, he said, he'd like to add a
&gt; second one so he can access the Internet in his
&gt; kitchen.

Every time I turn on my boss' Mac, it has new updates from Apple. I guess Doran Else is going to be really disappointed, unless he/she specifically hates Windows updates, but doesn't mind updates in general.
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You turn your boss' computer on 6 or 7 times a year then? Maybe you should take a look at the updates. 90% of them are software updates, no OS.
Posted by (461 comments )
Link Flag
What did you call your mac user
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Mini PC not new news
Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) when they first got into the PC business they had developed versions of PCs where the CPU-box looked like abook you could put it on the shelf and you could connect several together with a backbone connector similar to docking stations today.

Mini PCs is a great idea as the "average" person does not want add more components if build-in components are enough for a decent system.

Where Apple excells is in product design, user friendliness and packaging. Win-PC manufacturers still don't get it ... they create things that fits THEIR revenue needs, or engineering interesting projects not necessarily what peoples want and/or need. Case in point, look at all the build in software that Apple has included in the mac mini.
Posted by RdRunner (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
thats right, all the others are just behind...
..the mini-pc will catch on more with people in this country. the Mini-itx has been a popular format overseas. Consumers here tend to get oversold. Furthermore, size matters (bigger the better). Hopefully that attitude is changing cause I love those small PC's!
Posted by lewissalem (167 comments )
Reply Link Flag
6 MILLION IMACS+ ... Macs Easier to Expand
While you might dismiss 6+ million iMacs sold, that's not bad for any line - including personal computers.

Macs have been easier to exand in the past 5 years with Firewire and to a lesser extent, USB. First, 95% of average users never even crack open the case to exapdn anything. They just buy a new machine every 3 years.

On the PC side, it functions better when you add things in internally while on the Mac side, external devices are easy to add. PC users don;t realize this so they think Macs are not "expandable," when it's so much easier to plug in a firewire cable, format and be ready to go while on the Pc side, you have to open the case, remove a bunch of stuff, clean up the blood from the jagged design, then install, pray, screen dead, download drivers, an OS upgrade and something weird like MS Excel stops working ...

Mac - plug in, format and you're off &#38; running.
Posted by jbelkin (167 comments )
Reply Link Flag
towers are not desktops
Dell does not make a desktop, the 4700c is a slim tower. I use an HP dc5000sff (small form factor) at work with the monitor on top of it. I just bought an HP dc5100sff. My wife uses a Compaq Presario that sits on the desk with the monitor on top. Try that with a tower. The USB2.0 gives all the flexibility that most people need. That is why the iMac sells.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Tell that to Dell
Well, Dell thinks it makes desktops:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/category.aspx?" target="_newWindow">http://www1.us.dell.com/content/products/category.aspx?</a>
Posted by dejo (182 comments )
Link Flag
Mac Mini in the living room
Someone has posted pictures of their Mac Mini Living Room Set Up @ <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.hometheatermac.com/viewtopic.php?t=62" target="_newWindow">http://www.hometheatermac.com/viewtopic.php?t=62</a>

Look at how small the Mac Mini is compared to his DVD Player, the Cable Box, etc.
Posted by (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I must admit, that is a sweet setup.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Well, maybe...
Is this the start of something big? Well, small footprint computers have been here for some time, but now its Apple's turn to make an economy computer that anyone can just get up &#38; buy. If trojan horses, virii, &#38; spyware are the problem, then definitely, this is a good solution. Although not as big &#38; robust as a PowerPC G5 running @ 2.5 Ghz., it can do most of the jobs the bigger Macs can do...within limits. Don't try create the next Pixar blockbuster on it, though! There isn't enough RAM. But if you're looking for an alternative to windows, then Mac Mini is an excellent place to start.
Posted by Jon N. (182 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Certified PC Technician
Your claim as tech says it all. You are invested in the Wintel
platform to a degree that disallows acceptance of Macs.

The Mac Mini is NOT for technicians who want to tear them open
and upgrade them. It's for home users who want to plug it in
and surf the internet, make wedding invitations, send email and
play Civilization.

It may surprise you (though it shouldn't) that probably 90% of
the people in the world who buy computers NEVER open them
up to upgrade. And for those people - who are tired of their
Wintel machines being bogged down with virii and spyware, the
Mac Mini could be a compelling alternative.
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I switched! Awesome!
got a Mac Mini in standard configuration (the high-end version). Works great, and I use Remote Desktop to access my Windows box. No more delays- the machine performs very smooth and is very impressive overall. And it costs almost nothing compared to my other computers...

Stop arguing and give it a try. That is if you can get a Mac mini- supply is very short apparently...
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag

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