Originally posted by Mr. H
Why do some people assume a slightly larger, more configurable machine would cost Apple more to produce? It simply isn't true. I have demonstrated this on page 14 of this thread. Have you seen the packaging in the mini? It must have cost a fair amount to develop, and quite a bit to assemble. Developing a mini tower would have cost Apple less than developing the mini. But, what is done is done. It wouldn't cost Apple that much in R&D to develop a small tower computer.
Yes, 500 GB HDDs are expensive. But the mini tops out at 120 GB. 160 GB to 250 GB HDDs are a lot cheaper than 500 GB ones.
These comments raise a couple of issues:
1. What you seem to forget sometimes is that you are quite a wealthy person. Some people have to save up to buy computers, and don't like to spend more than they have to. Just because they don't have all that much money to spend on hardware, doesn't mean that they aren't willing to spend a bit to get what they need. But to tell someone, if they want OS X, their own monitor, and an HDD bigger than 120 GB, they should buy a PowerMac, is just ridiculous.
Yes, they could buy a mini and an external HDD, but that would be more expensive than putting a bigger HDD inside the mini, if only it was possible. An external HDD is an inelegant solution that Apple could have avoided with a more configurable low-end computer.
2. The computer I've been talking about in this thread, would be more configurable than the mini. So, Apple could have it start at $499 ($399 when Celeron 4xx arrives), and offer other standard configs with more features for more money. The machine I'm talking about could easily span a $399 to $1499 price range.
So, at the bottom end, this computer would appeal to those looking for a $399 computer. It would also appeal to people looking for a small, configurable computer. I am willing to accept that on the whole, those are two different sets of people. It doesn't change any of my arguments.
I'm not just talking about a very inexpensive computer. I'm also talking about a configurable one that is less than $999. There are simply loads of these available to you if you are a Windows user.
I agree. Going that low would do Apple no good. But both a $199 and $299 computer are very different from a $399 one (they are around 50% and 37% cheaper, respectively)
Well, I think that's only if they aren't offering features as standard at a price point where they should be offering said features. (e.g., if the $599 mac mini didn't include wireless, I think it would be fair enough to complain about that). However, to complain about a lack of wireless in a $399 or $499 computer would be churlish.
So, in conclusion:
A small tower (just big enough to contain full-size HD, optical drive and space for one PCI-E card) would appeal to everyone to whom a Mac mini appeals, and also, to a load of people to whom a Mac mini does not appeal. So, I'm talking about replacing one profitable computer with another profitable computer, which appeals to a much wider market. I simply cannot see how this would be a bad thing for Apple.
That's a lot to respond to, so I'm going to do it here, at the bottom, rather than make the post too complex with more quoting. I hope that's ok.
If you look at the "Mini" PC models, you will see that they cost MORE than a Mini, once you add anything other than the bare basics. This shows that the costing model Apple uses is correct. A mini anything is always going to cost significantly more. Thats why 1" drives cost more per Gb than 1.8" ones, which cost more per GB than 2.5" ones, which cost more per GB than 3.5" ones.
But, if Apple makes the machine just a little bit bigger, to accommodate a 3.5" drive, it will cost more. We will still be talking about a miniaturized machine, with all of the attendant increases in cost. But, now we will also be talking about a significantly bigger power supply needed for the much hungrier 3.5" drive. This will definitely hold true if Apple has to accommodate the needs of someone stuffing that 500GB (or larger, when it comes out later this year) drive in the case. 3.5" drives also put out far more heat than the 2.5" models do. 7,200 rpm drives put out even more heat, and there are a few (or there were last I looked) 10,000ATA drives that put out even more heat than that (as well as requiring even MORE power).
Will Apple need to add fans to the case as well? That makes it bigger still. What about the quietness of the machines? That has been praised all over the web. These changes will make this a pretty noisy machine, compared to what it is now, which is almost silent.
The packaging of the Mini might cost Apple $10. $15 at the outside. I'm not sure it even does cost that much. When you get to hundreds of thousands, packaging costs drop precipitously. That's my experience. You can look up custom packaging costs. They are out there, if you want to bother.
Insofar as a mini tower goes, well, you should have read the several posts I've made about that. That was my suggestion soon after Apple came out with the first G5 towers. I presented the plans (yup, I actually drew out plans) to my friends in Apple engineering management. They thought the plans made sense, and could be produced, but that "upper" management didn't want to go in that direction. Too bad. They were really very nice. They maintained the aluminum chassis, but were smaller, and didn't have the expensive metalwork for the handles or feet. There were other major changes inside, in the electronics as well to get the price to $999.
Sometimes I wish it WAS possible to build a Mac clone. I think I could have been successful. But, no matter.
1. I don't know what "quite a wealthy person" means. It's all relative. I certainly don't think of myself that way.
First of all, very few people these days "need" a 500GB HD. Those who do, tend to be hobbyists. Hobbyists are usually willing to spend more to get what they want. After all, it's a hobby. The rest who really need it ARE willing to save up for it. Drive costs are dropping, by the time someone needs to upgrade to one, they will cost a good deal less. Besides, 2.5" drive sizes are going up, and the costs for them are dropping as well. If someone opts for the smaller drive now, by the time they need the biggest one, it will be over 200GB, and cheaper than the 160 is now. Buying it on the market will make it cheaper than buying it from Apple.
Look, I know plenty of people who can't afford to buy an iMac, much less a PM, with all of the attendant trimmings. I don't live in a castle all of the time, I do come out to play.
In my user group alone, we have a fair percentage of people with 6000 and 7000 series of machines running 7.5.1. I know what it means for them to consider a new machine. I know people who rely on others to give them old machines, because they can't, or won't, spend the money for one themselves. Some of these people save up for YEARS to buy a new machine. So, I either donate (depending on what it is) my older stuff to the schools, or the user group.
Believe me, I do understand.
Also, the external solutions aren't inelegant. In fact, they are VERY elegant. They also offer more connectivity, and you can decide what size drive you will get. These drive cases and drives cost less that if the choice came from Apple. The cases themselves don't cost much, once you consider what it is you are getting.
2. To a great extent, you are right. But the price of $499 would still be a stripped down model, just like the PC mini versions out there are. It wouldn't be complete. People are complaining that they are not getting a Superdrive in that $599 model. It just goes to show how close to the line the machine is.
If you look at the reviews of the iMac, for example, one of the virtues mentioned in most of these reviews is that the consumer doesn't have to think about the purchase. It's all there. The Mini, of course, isn't quite that simple, because you still need the monitor and keyboard mouse combo. But, it's close.
Apple wants the sale to go something like this:
"What will I need other than my monitor, keyboard, mouse, and printer?"
"What if I want to connect to a wireless network?"
Just this $49 wireless router.
"Yes, but what about for the computer?"
Of course, the only fly here is that a modem is no longer included, but, it seems as though most Mac users elect to go for broadband.
If Apple removed several of these features, customers would be back to the "what do I need to buy to do..."
"Will the Celeron play HD trailers from Apple's web site, and others?"
The interesting thing is that those who can afford less will usually buy a product that costs more, but already has these features, rather than buy something that needs to have them added later.
The problem with thinking about lacking these features upon first sale, is that they can't be added later, usually. Then what does Apple do if a customer wants to add WiFi to their machine 18 months after they bought it?
That would call for an extensive redesign of the machine, with customer friendly slots or connectors inside the machine. Oops, the price just went up again.