Apple’s new Mac Mini 2014 update misfire for developers at WWDC


Did Apple misfire with the Mac Mini at WWDC 2014 this week? Apple’s strategy this year appeared to be “This is a developer conference and the room is full of developers, so let’s give them software geekery instead of hardware rollouts.” And the audience in the room at the keynote ate it up, right down to the extended portions of the presentation devoted to lines of code from a new programming language – to the point that one was left to ask why Apple bothered making a live stream available for average users at home. But the hardware-free strategy came with one flaw: the room was full of the kind of people who really want a new Mac Mini, and Apple hasn’t bothered to update it in nearly two years. So now what?

Apple has long made clear that it doesn’t care much about the Mac Mini, dating back to when Steve Jobs first introduced it a decade ago in a brief and enthusiasm-free portion of a keynote. And that’s for good reason, as the Mini deviates from Apple’s vision for all in one cohesive computing in favor of essentially being a computer in a sandwich tin. Two kinds of people buy the Mac Mini. The first is the grandma crowd, the casual users who want an inexpensive Mac they can plug into a cheap monitor because they’re on a fixed income or refuse to invest more money in a more elegant product like the iMac. These users could care less that the Mac Mini hasn’t been updated in awhile or has specs from 2012.

But the second group of users who care about the Mac Mini are the geeks and developers who like the flexibility of being able to swap out monitors and peripherals within their multi-computer work and testing environment. These users care very much that the current Mac Mini is severely outdated, and take it personally that Apple treats it like an afterthought. And these were precisely the type of users who were in the WWDC keynote audience on Monday, looking for signs of life from their favorite diminutive Mac model.

In 2013 Apple paid lip service to this crowd by using WWDC to make an extensive preview presentation of the other Mac model aimed squarely at the geek and power-user crowd, the Mac Pro. Ultimately it didn’t matter that the Mac Pro ended up shipping about six months after WWDC came and went. The key was that Apple made a point of feeding the geeks in the room precisely the kind of new hardware they love.

Apple could have done the same this week by making even a passing mention of a new 2014 Mac Mini model during the keynote. The catch of course is that when software and hardware are both presented in the same keynote, the tech press (and thus the public’s attention) tends to focus primarily on the hardware. So the “news” out of WWDC 2014 would have been that Apple “only” introduced a new Mac Mini. By keeping it 100% software, Apple ensured that the headlines were actually about the new software offerings. But it also meant the geeks in the keynote hall departed even more miffed than ever that the Mac Mini is rotting on the vine. Slip out the new Mac Mini 2014 next week or next month and all is forgiven. Wait another year to update the Mini, however, and the Mac geek crowd may well show up to WWDC 2015 with pitchforks in hand.

Will Stabley
Will Stabley is the Founder and Senior Editor of Stabley Times.
Will Stabley

4 Comments

  1. GianfrancoD on June 4, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    I do own a mac mini from 2009 (dual core intel, 1.83 gig) and blocked to O.S. 10.6..8 and really need to change to a newer model. So I was really disappointed by the arrogance of Cupertino for saying nothing about a new mini. I dislike the Imac because I prefer the flexibility of a modular system and the power of an updated mac mini would suffice for my needs. I hate to leave Apple, but the Intel NUC (a real mini 5” square) seems to be a reasonable substitute. If Apple intend to ditch the Mini why don’t say that?



  2. Lance on June 5, 2014 at 8:51 am

    There is a third crowd for the Mac Mini; it is the only “server” that Apple sells. An iMac doesn’t go in a rack very well neither does the Mac Pro. Sure with the Mac Pro and the Mac Mini you need to buy a rackmount for it but you can get two Mac Mini’s in 1U whereas the Mac Pro requires 5U for two of them. You also do not need the dual GPU’s the Mac Pro has in a server. Go to Apple.com and the only “server” they sell is the Mac Mini. Who wants to pay the same price today as the 2013 model cost when it was released almost two-years ago? Will the next update to the Mac Mini probably cost the same? Sure, but the spec’s will be slightly better, plus the update CPU will have a better GPU which should extend the life of the Mac Mini by at least one OS X release if not more.

    If Apple didn’t want hardware to take the attention away from the software, then they could have released an updated Mac Mini before WWDC. October 2013 is when Apple should have updated the Mac Mini.

    I would be happy if Apple would just sell a VMware image or OS X license to run under ESXi for the server variant. Even the Mac Mini is not designed to be a server for the likes of OpenDirectory, Profile Manager, RADIUS, etc. in an enterprise environment. I would be more than happy to pay Apple a few hundred to buy an OS X Server license to run under ESXi to support what I need it to support with better performance in 1U of space.



  3. JST on June 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    True, true! I’m fearing about the mac mini’s future 🙂



  4. Denni on June 11, 2014 at 3:41 am

    I’m actually a huge fan of the Mini! Set in relations to other Macs, it is quite affordable and HELL, IT’S SO DAMN SMALL! 🙂
    I’m currently still using my old Windows-machine at home as a desktop computer, a Macbook on the fly and of course my beloved iPhone. As soon as my PC finally breaks down, i will update to a Mac Mini IF it is updated till then. I don’t like the idea to be restricted to one panel size and type at all (as i am with an iMac). And of course I would like to continue using my present monitor.