It seems to be impossible to escape the news around Apple’s Mac mini release. A huge number of bytes have been spent commenting on the reasons behind Apple’s decision, Cringley’s comment that Apple has dollars to burn building market share on the back of its iPod triumph (the halo effect).
What interests me is how Dell et al. will react. The Mac mini is "Bring your own keyboard, display, and mouse", positioning it firmly at winning market share from existing PC users. That also allows them to come in at a cheaper price. Nice idea. But it reminds that I have previously tried to buy a PC BYOKM from Dell and failed miserably. "But I already have a display, keyboard, and mouse. Dell ones!" I would rant to the call center. "Why do I have to buy another one?". This was usually followed by my accepting defeat and passing on the surplus keyboard, display, and mouse to a friend or family member.
So what would happen if Dell started supplying PCs in the BYOKDM paradigm. The higher spec mac mini specification: 1.4GHz G4 processor, 80GB hard drive, a slot-loading CD-R/DVD-ROM optical drive, 256MB DDR SDRAM and ATI Radeon 9200 graphics chip with 32MB dedicated DDR SDRAM retails for £398.99. Now a Dell Dimension 3000 (2.80GHz P4, 80GB hard drive, 256 MB DDR SDRAM, with DVD/CDRW) retails at £576. Software, both using Works products seem about equivalent. But Dell retails an equivalent monitor for £156.51 and a mouse and keyboard for £32.91. Take that from the price of the PC and Dell could theoretically knock it out, BYOKDM, for £386.58. That is about the same price as the Mac mini.
Now of course, some might argue that the design of that Mac mini is a lot nicer than the equivalent Dell. As for Mac OS X vs. XP, well I’ll stick with XP (and have done ever since I had to drag a disk to the waste bin to eject it, and couldn’t find a context menu) but YMMV.
Because Dell can compete it will be interesting to see if they do and if BYOKDM then becomes an industry pattern. If Mac wants fight a war on price, one wonders how low the PC manafacturers will or can go. Though the idea of a sub £250 PC, BYOKDM, doesn’t seem like fantasy now. Presumably Mac might want to fight on quality, but they have tried that before. Perhaps they hope that MAc mini is just low enough priced that folks will buy more than one PC, the same way they have more than one games console. I’m not so sure that will be true of the general consumer, but what do I know.
I hope this announcment brings beneficial competion to the PC sector (guys design some cool PC boxes, I would like my box to look funky too).
As for Apple’s other annouccement the IPod shuffle – no display, no control over which tunes are played – come on guys. I love my iPod, but this thing seems to defeat the object of ‘personal’. I want to decide the playlist. The request to ‘give chance a chance’ may be a great attempt to spin your weakness, but no thanks. I suspect this one will go the way of the Newton.