The Mac Mini Is Three Years Old

Brian Stucki of MacStadium:

It’s been three years since the current Mac mini was released on Oct 16, 2014. “All About That Bass” was the number one song in the land. Four hundred million humans have been born since that day and have never known a new Mac mini. My daughter is one of them. She already walks and talks and just moved to her big-girl bed. Three years is a long time.

It’s a very long time. At the time that Stucki published this post — on Monday, the third birthday of the current-generation Mac Mini — the last we had heard about the product came from Phil Schiller at the Mac Pro press briefing in April:

The Mac Mini remains a product in our lineup, but nothing more to say about it today.

Yesterday, though, Tim Cook responded to a MacRumors reader’s email:

While it is not time to share any details, we do plan for Mac mini to be an important part of our product line going forward.

That statement isn’t entirely confidence-inspiring for me. I don’t think Cook is lying or exaggerating the role that he feels the Mac Mini may have in the future, but it’s such a vague remark for a product in such dire need of an update. The best you can say about his reply is that it’s an admission that the Mini isn’t dead.

The Mac lineup — particularly the desktop Mac lineup — feels stagnant. It feels like they’re stuck in a place where they want to re-envision those products but haven’t been able to deliver those updates in a timely fashion. What I don’t understand is their inability or reluctance to ship spec bump updates on a regular basis: prior to this summer’s iMac update, its most recent update shipped in October 2015; prior to the October 2014 Mac Mini update, its most recent was in 2012.

Spec bumps are not as splashy or as exciting as introducing a new model; they don’t afford Apple the opportunity to think about ways that the product could change to better meet customers’ needs. But, over the past few years, you’ve likely noticed a growing concern across the web that Apple doesn’t care about the Mac any more. I doubt that sentiment would be as significant or as pervasive if Apple were providing spec bump updates along the way.

Also, for what it’s worth, I think it’s difficult to justify charging the as-new price on a Mac that hasn’t been updated in three years. Not from a sales perspective, mind you, but from an ethics perspective — Macs aren’t houses, for example, and 2014 was a long time ago in technology terms.