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APPLE CONTINUES TO INSULT ITS CUSTOMER BASE

Now that the September Event 2017 has come and gone – and Apple has once again refused to update the Mac Mini – Apple is continuing to demonstrate complete contempt for its customer base.

Of course, this behavior is nothing new to Apple.

There had been a very large fan base for Apple’s Mac Mini. It was the one Apple device that was attractive to Geeks, rather than Apple’s usual market appeal to technophobes who only want a turn key computer. The 2012 Apple Mac Mini 2.6 (or 2.3) GHz i7 quad-core server was considered a gem. RAM and storage could be upgraded easily.

Then in 2014, Apple put in an unnecessary bottom plate, soldered in the RAM, and made the storage more difficult to change. Worse yet, Apple dropped the quad-core option and left customers with only a dual-core option.

The Geek world was furious.

Apple had:

  • Weakened the Mac Mini’s performance
  • Forced customers to pay Apple’s inflated prices for additional RAM
  • Forced customers to pay Apple’s inflated prices for storage upgrade

Overnight, there came a demand for the older 2012 quad-core Server Model, which to this day can still cost more than the neutered 2014 Mac Mini.

Not satisfied with that insult, Apple has let the 2014 Mac Mini rot for three years. It is still selling the Mac Mini with almost obsoleted Haswell Chips.

C’mon Apple, we are on the verge of 8th generation chips, and you are selling the Mac Mini with 4th generation Hawell CPUs.

Anyone who has prowled the web knows that there is still customer base for the Mac Mini which would like to buy an new model, particularly if Apple re-introduced the quad-core option. They would probably be even willing to pay Apple’s ridiculous prices to order the RAM and storage upgrades upfront, if Apple continues to keep its noxious practice of making upgrades impossible to the consumer.

Why doesn’t Apple make the Mac Mini an exception to their price gouging rule. Its appeal was often to Geeks?  Why doesn’t Apple make the Mac Mini the one user-upgradeable product in its line.  Hewlett-Packard makes their small form factor computers easy to upgrade in RAM and storage.

WHY APPLE MAY BE IN A FIX

If Apple releases a Mac Mini in October, with only a Kaby Lake upgrade, it will be seen as cynical, now that the new 8th Generation chips are coming out online. Apple has acted cynically before, so it would not be out of character.

However, if Apple waits until the Spring of 2018, and offers a quad-core Mac Mini with newer 8th Generation chips, Apple will be in another fix.  Namely, the increase in performance may be so large that a newly equipped Mac Mini may approximate the performance of a two or three year old iMac which cost thousands more.

CPU CORES BASE FREQ. TURBO RAM STORAGE PRICE
Mac Mini
October ’14
i7-4578U 2C/4Th 3.0 GHz 3.5 GHz 16GB 256GB SSD $1399
21.5 iMac
October ’15
I5-5775R 4C/8Th 3.3 GHz 3.8 GHz 16GB 256GB SSD $2099

With the 8th Generation of Intel Chips, the cores will be increased to 4 cores. Albeit, some of the lower models will not have hyper-threading. Even so, an increase in cores is a vast improvement over an increase in threads, as threads do not double performance but only increase it by 30-50%.

Let’s assume that Apple goes for a weaker i5 option rather than a fully-powered i7. Even then, the stats are stupendous.

LET COMPARE IT TO THE CPU IN THE HIGH-END 2015 21.5 iMAC

Launched CPU CORES TYPE BASE FREQ. TURBO CACHE TDP GRAPHICS PRICE
Feb ’15 i7-5775R 4C/8Th Desktop CPU 3.3 GHz 3.8 GHz 6MB 65W Iris™ Pro Graphics 6200 $348
March ’17 i5-8350U 4C/8Th Low Power CPU 1.7 GHz 3.6 GHz 6MB 15W UHD Graphics 620 $297
March ’17 i7-8650U 4C/8Th Low Power CPU 1.9 GHz 4.2 GHz 8MB 15W UHD Graphics 620 $409

Now, it is true that the 8th Generation CPUs run at a lower base frequency, but they can turbo up to fairly high speeds. Even the i5-8350u option can approximate the power of the high-end i7-5775R option on the October 2015 21.5″ iMac.

The i7-8650u CPU could outperform the i7-5775R desktop CPU for short bursts. Since even a high-end Mac Mini comes in for hundreds less than an iMac, Apple may be faced with an embarrassing fact that a new Mac Mini could out perform iMacs only two to three years old.

The Iris Pro Graphics on the older i7-5775R has a slight advantage over the integrated graphics on the 8th Generation CPUs in the chart, but not by much.

If Apple refreshes the Mac Mini, she will not be able to peddle a dual-core piece of junk as she did in 2014. If Apple sells the Mac Mini at all, she will have to go with the 4 core 8th Generation CPUs; and the Mac Mini with an 8th Generation CPU may be so powerful that it will approximate a far more expensive iMac in short bursts of performance.

Apple will be in a bind. She will be slammed whatever she does. The days of the Apple cheap shot dual-core option are over. Of course, Apple could release a Kaby Lake Mac Mini with a dual-core option; but if Apple does, I suspect the Geek world will be so furious at Apple, for releasing a product that will be obsolete from the start, that sales will nosedive and the Mac Mini line will have to be dropped altogether.

Goodbye Mac Mini. Hello Hackintosh.

My opinion is that Apple should recognize that reality and treat the Mac Mini as a special line for Geeks, a line that can be user-upgraded later on. Apple should stop soldering the RAM, and return to making the Storage easier to change, much as Hewlett Packard does with its EliteDesk small form factor products. Make this the one Apple product line which is Geek friendly.

Either that, or Apple may have to kill the Mac Mini altogether, if it does not re-imagine the line as something other than an intro model.