What does 10.5 Front Row Mean For Mac Mini, AppleTV and 'Mac Nano'?

in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
I had a hard time trying to decide which thread to resurrect: this one, this one, or this one. So, I decided to just start a new one instead.

Now that Apple has released Leopard that includes the AppleTV-esque Front Row as a stand-alone application, which has been confirmed to work with older G4 and G5 Macs, I'm starting to think the AppleTV and Mac Mini are destined to give way to some new, small form factor Mac product. Perhaps the rumored 'Mac Nano'.

Here's how I reason it: A lot of people have noticed the very limited attention given to the AppleTV and, lately, the Mac Mini. A few folks are proclaiming the end of the road for the Mac Mini. Now that anyone who upgrades their Mini to the Leopard OS can, essentially, turn the Mac Mini into an AppleTV, complete with streaming content from another Mac, it would seem that their is no purpose for the stand alone AppleTV either. However, the AppleTV has the ability to output HDMI and component video, a feature lacking on the Mac Minis without some sort of special cable/adapter setup.

So, what if Apple released a smaller-than-Mini but bigger-than-AppleTV product that could function as a computer (like the Mini) using the Leopard OS but, with FR 2.0 and the necessary HDMI/Component/Optical audio outputs for a home entertainment system, could also function like the AppleTV? Maybe it would have a 3.5" HDD and/or an optical drive. But it seems Apple would be able to better market a device that has the functionality and capability of both the AppleTV and Mac Mini consolidated into a single small form factor device.

The main reason I'm resurrecting this conversation is because of the new AppleTV like Front Row capabilities in Leopard. If it had not been included in Leopard, I wouldn't have thought anything along these lines. But now that it is a part of Leopard (and part of any Mac, basically), then it seems that there really is no purpose for the existence of the AppleTV in its current state. Thus, I'm inclined to think the functionality of the AppleTV and Mac Mini are going to "merge" into some new sort of product.


  • Reply 1 of 3
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    Killing both the Mac mini and Apple TV are incongruent with logic. Even killing one without a suitable replacement is silly. Here's why.

    Market Focus

    The Apple TV isn't hyped because until iTunes gets HD downloads it isn't delivering anything more than what the typical consumer has now (with the plethora of DVD ripping apps). The Apple TV, IMO, still figures in heavily into the future. It is an appliance. This means consumers expect to pull it from the box and have it setup in 20 minutes or less.

    The Mac mini is a computer. It's aimed at being a low cost entry into Macintosh OS and software. It is not an appliance and you will not have it fully setup after 20 minutes. The OS that it runs is more sophisticated that the Apple TV and rightly so because it is for general purpose computing.

    Making Front Row in Leopard more like Apple TV is important form a usability standpoint. Perhaps there is some content on the Apple TV that you want your Macintosh to retrieve and view. Well it makes sense to have the same interface and in a pinch a person can substitute a Mac mini in lieu of an Apple TV at 2x the cost.

    I don't see either product dying. I see the next Mac mini coming based on GMA3100 graphics (Macbook too) and I see the Apple TV eventually moving to a Leopard based system with Webkit/iTunes support and better sharing functionality between Macs and other Apple TV. The Apple TV will probably become more integrated to shave costs down. The magic pricepoint is $199.
  • Reply 2 of 3
    The things that AppleTV need to gain more attention are not hardware but software and content. QuickTime/iTunes/AppleTV OS need an upgrade to support different purchase models such as direct purchases through the AppleTV and potentially rentals. Apple TV also needs to be upgraded to support closed captioning, something that was added to iTunes but as far as I know not implemented. I would imagine that the hold off for this has been leopards release, now that it is out they can pay attention to implementing the necessary changes that they have planed or in progress.

    Content is the next hurdle, and we have seen a number of problems with some of the content owners such as NBC. We are also seeing the beginnings of real competition with Apple in Amazon. I would imagine that Apple has a timeline of releasing content in HD (720p) in time for the Christmas season, which gives them a window of 3-4 weeks. If they can get the contracts together for rentals in this same time frame then we will likely see that as well. The next thing they need to add is more "streamed" content like You Tube, again this is limited to their ability to get the contracts necessary to do it as well as content which is of acceptable quality to make it worth while.

    Price reductions would be good, but most of the competing products (hardware) are of a similar price.
  • Reply 3 of 3
    tkntkn Posts: 224member
    I think the TV pricing needs some work also. I would love to dump cable TV in favor of a downloadable, on-demand system. But the pricing never works out, and I barely watch any TV... They need to have better package pricing or a subscription model (people are used to this for television, so it shouldn't be as much of a problem). The other thing is, of course, that if networks withdraw randomly from iTunes, then you are out of luck. No matter what the price of the hardware.

    I think a low end Mac Mini would still be a better buy than an AppleTV at this point. Even an old refurbished Mini is a better buy.

    If Apple is serious about the AppleTV being a bit of a hobby or a toy, they should consider developing a gaming API for OS X on it. The sales potential is huge and the upside of having gaming optimizations spread throughout the system is also a big advantage.
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