You have some interesting points here!
Originally Posted by Marvin
The 13" only has Iris, not Iris Pro - Iris is half the speed.
That maybe so but it is still better than the base GPU in Haswell.
However, the quad-core mini tends to get the same CPUs as the entry 15" so I expect the second model could get Iris Pro. These CPUs are more expensive than the previous ones so if they do go for Iris/Iris Pro, they have to get a $100 price hike. The margins are too low otherwise. That's still ok though - $899 for Iris Pro + quad-i7 is pretty much the quad-i7 + 650M that people wanted for $999 in the past.
I wouldn't mind paying that much if the GPU delivers the results. Every indication so far is that the Iris GPUs do deliver. For years my biggest problem with the Mini has been GPU performance, Apple simply never offered a model that was worth the extra cash to purchase. The 2011 model with the discrete AMD GPU was too much of a joke to even think about.
The thing here is Haswell combined with Mavericks changes the ball game considerably. Not only are the drivers vastly improved, but memory can be dynamically allocated to the GPU. This would vastly improve the capability of the Mini and would out the Mini in another performance category.
Tim mentioned products would roll out into 2014, I guess the mini is the one that gets the raw deal. Although he did say during the presentation that all their products had been updated in time for the holidays. Maybe they don't consider poor little tiny Tim (the mini) part of their family, at Christmas.
To which I would have to ask; what is the point? Waiting until the end of November would just kill sales throughout the holiday season.
The mini will never be a model they pay much attention to. Unfortunately it is the worst of both - a low seller and low revenue. Customers immediately think that it's underpowered because of its size and there's no Apple displays cheap enough to pair with it and the peripheral prices are high.
Well it has been under powered, that relates directly to the GPU which is extremely important to all modern operating systems and the services they support. The sad thing here is that Haswell has the thermal performance to address the GPU issue even if an uprated power supply is required, but sales are currently rolling over a cliff.
As for customers part of the problem is marketing, walk into any Apple store and try to find the Mini. I really think the Mini was built for Apples third party resellers. This is why Apple has never even tried to present a rational configuration in their stores. Nobody in their right mind lays out +$600 for a computer and the attaches a +$800 monitor to it. Especially when the GPU in the machine has been less than wonderful.
The mini has uses as a server but when you think about what a server does and the most popular OSes for it such as CentOS and Debian, these are systems that run with a tiny memory footprint and are designed to be stable for months on end. iOS is much better suited for this than OS X. The mini could easily be reworked into a high clock-speed A7 machine running iOS and sold as a cheap server. The UI is really lightweight and can run no problem at 320x480 so even if it needed remote desktop type control, this can be done very easily and managed remotely by an iOS device or Mac in a manner similar to the iOS simulator.
These are points that are very valid! An A7 or better processor in a Mini type machine could make for a very nice SOHO type server. However I think yo underestimate how important RAM is for more advance server duties. Even so A7 should be able to address plenty of RAM.
The thing here is A7 could be valuable for many traditional Mini duties beyond use as a server. It just doesn't have the performance to sit on today's desktops as a primary workstation.
I'm sure people still have the notion that Apple will always need an affordable desktop to offer but it's always about sales volume. If the sales aren't there, they drop the products because the sales indicate the needs and demands of the market. Maybe they'd miss out on switchers but the Macbook Air and even iOS devices are doing this job better.
I honestly believe that Apple needs an entry level machine. That could be a low end Mini or a laptop. My perspective has changed of late though. The problem is this, much of the really low end demand has gone to tablets and frankly for good reason, it is a segment that won't come back anytime soon. This has me believing that the only choice Apple has is to introduce a machine attractive to professional users, especially those professional users that balk at the Mac Pros price structure. I see more potential for a Mini with Haswell Iris Pro than I do for an entry level machine. I'd still go a step farther and build a machine with 4 RAM slots and a high performance SSD interface just like the rest of the Mac machines. The thing is with modern tech you might not need a bigger box, though you might have to give up rust based storage. I see this as very doable in the $900 to $1200 range. It would be a machine that is what many professionals need, a machine with lots of RAM and a respectable GPU.
It's great to have the option of getting the same CPU in the $1999 MBP in an $899 desktop but I reckon the number of units would be around 150k per quarter. The average selling price of their desktops is around $1290. The cheapest iMac started at $1199 in 2012 up until November. To get an ASP of $1290, this means they had to be selling a fair amount of higher up models, likely the $1699 27" iMac.
I think it was two years or so ago that somebody at Apple let slip that desktop sales have sucked and that even iMac sales where flat. Laptop sales have come close to 80% of all Mac sales. That means 20% of the sales went to desktop machines and the bulk of those are usually the iMac. So yeah sales haven't been all that great. Apple however has been complicit in making sure the Mini doesn't succeed in my mind. For years it shipped with too little RAM to even run Apples operation systems properly. Apple established the Minis reputation for being a poor value.
It was interesting to hear some of the excuses, such as well go out and buy your own RAM which makes about as much sense as Ford telling somebody their transmissions suck, go out and buy a third party transmission. The other common complaint was that a proper amount of RAM from Apple cost to much. Thankfully Apple demonstrated with their own hardware, in the form of Mac Book AIR, the lie that RAM has to be expensive from Apple. AIR has been around in its current form for a couple of years now, yet the Mini still suffers from the same basic architecture of a decade ago and still represents poor value out of the box for running OS/X.
150k per quarter would contribute around $35m to their gross profit of $17b. I'd estimate the iMac contributes over $400m. There is only around $400-500m of gross profit from desktops. Their laptops account for 3x more.
Actually I wouldn't be surprised to find that the numbers have favored laptops even more. The advent of the iPads will likely change that in the future if you believe as I do that tablet capabilities are just getting to the point of being able to displace laptops. I see the proportion of Mac Sales changing in the future with desktops becoming a greater percentage of sales. Not more sales mind you just that the allure of laptops will go away. The only problem here is value, Apples desktop line up sucks in this respect and is the common reason why people express the opinion that they are forced into buying an Apple laptop.
If a significant amount of the 150k are actually buying them to use as servers and not desktops, they can build them for $200-300 less. They might even manage to hit below $299 (think overclocked iPad mini with 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD with optional 2.5" storage and no display). It could even function as a basic desktop. The kind of desktop you buy for someone that needs to check email on a big screen and browse the web (without Flash) but would be best not getting any issues and needing support. Scaling would be a slight issue as monitors come in different shapes but they could say 16:9 1080p display optimal. They could allow USB support for storage and cameras. They could be able to stretch gross margins above 40% while still hitting a lower price.
You are on a common path here because I honestly believe that the only other option Apple has for a Mini like machine is to go extreme low cost. The only way to do that is to go A7. Considering the integration here of what would likely be an A7D ( D for desktop) they could most likely build that PC into half the volume of the current Mini. By the way the D is a chip with more I/O, in this case USB and TB. One only has to look at the size of the chips and PCBs in the iPhone or iPad to realize that a slightly bigger board could integrate RAM and everything else required to make a "PC".