The Mac Gap
With 3 desktop and laptop models to choose from, Apple has a computer to satisfy many users. The Mac Mini makes an excellent second machine or the first Mac for a switcher. The iMac brings power, some portability and a huge screen, while the Mac Pro satisfies the needs of heavy computing users.
On the laptop side you have the MacBook for nearly everyone, the MacBook Pro for professionals and the MacBook Air for those seeking extreme portability.
But there is a considerable gap in both lines, and one that could satisfy a large number of users with a new model. You’ll likely remember the 12″ PowerBook G4 (shown at right). Probably my favourite Apple product of all time, it packed an entire full featured laptop into a 12″ aluminum shell. It had a full DVD combo drive, discrete graphics, and a full compliment of ports. This differs from Apple’s current ultraportable laptop, the MacBook Air, because it doesn’t sacrifice power nearly as much.
I think it’s time that Apple brings back the 12″ PowerBook in the form of a 13.3″ or smaller aluminum shelled MacBook with an actual graphics card, backlit keyboard and DVD burner. I would sell my MacBook in a flash to have real graphics, an aluminum look and a full powered Core 2 Duo processor. If Apple wants to make gaming more prevalent on OS X, they need to give full graphics power to a laptop without forcing users to shell out the extra cash for a MacBook Pro.
On the desktop side of things, there is a need for a model between the iMac and Mac Pro that blends power with upgradeability and price. Macworld calls it the mythical, midrange Mac minitower. It stems from the idea that there is no model that directly competes with the standard Windows box. Sure, you can get the Mac Pro, with 4 hard drive bays, 8 RAM slots and up to 8 cores, but if you don’t absolutely need all these things, you’re wasting money.
What would be an excellent compromise would be a computer that is somewhere between the Mac Mini and Mac Pro in size, but between the iMac and Mac Pro in power and upgradeability. With 2 or more hard drive bays, 4 RAM slots and no included monitor, it could be upgraded as needed without limitations. Companies looking for towers to use their current monitors or to build a server farm would have all the power they need, without spending extra on Mac Pros or Xserves.
With a new model inside the desktop and notebook lineup, Apple could cover even more of the computer market and draw in more users.
Would you trade your current machine for one of these?