Who’s buys a Mac mini?  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Apple on Tuesday updated its $599 Mac mini and said that the box is faster and greener than before — a no brainer since its been ages since the line was refreshed (a year and a half) and this update was something that Mac watchers have fretted over. But what kind of customer buys a Mac mini? I say: Mac and Linux geeks.

The common wisdom says that the Mac mini appeals to switchers from Windows. In this model, the customer is totally interested in the entry price of the  box.

Certainly, with the current economic distress, this price-point consideration must be growing.

Still, since its introduction in 2005, I’ve met very, very few switchers who have bought a Mac mini. They mostly purchase iMacs and MacBooks.

When Steve Jobs introduced the Mac mini in 2005 in his keynote address for the San Francisco Macworld Expo, he said that the Mac mini was first a “Mac that costs less.” Next, it was quiet. And  that it was a “robust computer, but it’s very very tiny.”

“We want to price this so that peope who are thinking of switching will have no excuse. [For] people that want a second Mac in their house — or a third or a fourth — it’s really going to be easy,” he continued.

From what I’ve seen there are two segments that buy Mac minis. First, there are customers from the installed base of Mac owners, who want an inexpensive Mac and who already own a monitor, display and keyboard. These persons are either purchasing a second (or third or fourth as Jobs said) machine or are replacing an ancient PowerPC-based Mac.

But from what I’ve seen in the past couple of years is that the growth segments are Mac and Linux geeks who are using these inexpensive Macs as servers, virtualization machines and colocation boxes.

There are several companies that offer hosting plans with dedicated Mac minis. Some Mac managers are more comfortable with these boxes since they can use familiar Mac tools for controlling them remotely.

At the Macworld Expo in January, I am fairly certain that I saw several rackmount solutions for Mac minis, including the MX4 Rack Tray, which holds 4 Mac minis in a 2U rack.

I remember the Internet News story from last year, where Sean Michael Kerner mentions a the Firefox development offices and discovered that they were running an array of 80 Mac minis, which dispelled his “illusions of Mozilla super cluster grandeur.”

From a testing framework point of view (since Mozilla is constantly building and testing) they are using an array of about 80 Apple Mac Minis. According to Beltzner the reason why they’re using Macs is easy — they handle  virtualization easily.

BTW: If you’re interested in packing a Mac mini with virtualized Windows or Linux machines take a look at the recently released VMware vCenter Converter 4.0. (story Link)

This entry was posted on Mar 8, 2009 at 2:04 PM and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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