Can Apple Redefine the Desktop Computer?

Apple rumors are also growing around redefined brand new Mac Mini’s and Mac Pros. Can Apple in the world of mobile device dominance fine tune those two desktops in the same way that Apple recreated the MacBook Air last fall?

Like most Apple observers, MoD before last fall felt like the MacBook Air didn’t have a real place in Apple’s lineup with the arrival of the iPad. Honestly, I was expecting it to be cancelled. Instead Apple applied a sharp focus on what the MacBook Air needed (battery life, reduced weight, solid state memory) and was able to create the best lightweight laptop on the market at a price point never seen before from an Apple product. The Mac Mini and the Mac Pro both are current niche products like the former MacBook Air that could be enhanced by stripping them down.

The biggest selling point in the future for desktops is going to be monitor size the only advantage that desktop has over mobile, everything should be focused on providing a great big screen OS experience and graphics experience. How can Apple emphasize this performance experience and reduce costs?

Thunderbolt is the key. Apple can strip down these machines and load them with multiple Thunderbolt ports for IO and expansion.

What does the Mac Mini really need? RAM, medium speed processor, DVD-R, good graphics with the ability to drive at least one big monitor at a high resolution. Apple could really strip down the Mac Mini relying upon Thunderbolt for expansion. This new Mini could perhaps be as little as $499 or $699 with a 20 inch monitor. Big hard drives can be added externally via Thunderbolt ports (using Firewire 800/USB 3.0 adapters).

What does the Mac Pro need? Huge RAM expansion options, multi-core processors, video card options to drive at least two big monitors, Thunderbolt ports for expansion. By losing some of the traditional expansion options Apple could create a new cheaper lineup of powerful Pro machines. These Mac Pros could then also be rack mountable to replace the XServes.

Apple needs to push for vendors to create Thunderbolt adapters (imagine a Thunderbolt “dock” with Firewire 800, USB ports, HDMI), and Thunderbolt based hardware accessories such as a rack mountable RAID array for instance to work this new desktop paradigm. Sure the shock of losing legacy ports is tough but Apple has shown through the years that it will always drive port progress forward.

Finally, all this new Thunderbolt gear would then also be available to the iMac and Apple’s laptop lineup further increasing the capability of all the other gear sold with Thunderbolt ports.

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  1. October 13th, 2011

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