Second Helpings at Macworld

Mac miniEverything that Steve Jobs announced in today’s Macworld Expo keynote address can be thought of as a kind of second helping. There’s a sequel, like the iLife ’05 suite of digital lifestyle products. There’s a second taste of Apple’s teasing foray into a full-productivity suite, in which the new version of Keynote is bundled with a brand new word processing program under the name iWork. There’s a new, lower-priced version of Apple’s winning digital music player called the iPod shuffle, which almost seems as if it’s being sold as an accessory to its larger siblings. And there’s the Mac mini, which is being pitched as either a replacement for a Windows PC or a companion to an existing Macintosh. In an unexpected way, you could even say that it’s a kind of sequel, too.

One of Everything, Please

Below: Two sexy. The new iWork suite and the tempting Mac mini.

For my part, I’m ready with my plate. I was extremely pleased by the way the Keynote went today, at least insofar as it saw the release of a few items that I’ve really been wanting for a long time. Since I lost my iPod, I’ve been in the market for a new one, so it’s nice to have a low cost option. I’m almost always going to be up for improvements to iLife’s iPhoto — with, hopefully, some big-time speed scalability this time — so that goes in the shopping cart straight away. Similarly, the idea of an Apple-authored word processor like Pages is tremendously appealing to me — I’m surely going to pick up a copy of iWork.



Even without Pages, iWork is a tremendously easy sell for me in that it contains Keynote 2, the long-awaited major revision to Apple’s gorgeous presentation program. Last week I wrote about how much I’d been looking forward to a new version of this program which, almost unexpectedly, I’ve been using more and more of over the past year. Most of the advertised improvements seem to be in the category of ‘bells and whistles.’ They all look fantastic, but I’m hoping that, when I get my hands on a copy, it will bear out more much-needed usability improvements like this one.

Mini Me

Mac mini Dimensions

As for the Mac mini, its US$500-600 price range is incredibly tempting. For my little Manhattan apartment, it would be great to have a new Mac as discreet as this one to use as a central server for my home network. If I start hearing about people successfully installing Mac OS X Server on their Mac minis, I’ll be reaching for my wallet. As an aside: the funniest thing about this new, “headless” Mac is that it is, for all intents and purposes, a resurrection of the Power Mac G4 Cube. That one was five years too early, I guess.



  1. I want the mini and I want it now (I always thought the cube was cool). It’s not so inexpensive when you begin adding all the things you need(want) (super-drive, bluetooth, airport, etc) but it would look great in my house!

    The new iPod is disappointing however. I like shuffle to be an option, not the rule.

  2. Yeah, I had that experience tonight when I started adding options to a mini at the Apple Store. When I opted for the bigger (80GB) hard drive, AirPort card, Bluetooth card and AppleCare, the price jumped up to around $800 or so. Ouch. Still, it would be the cheapest Mac I’ve ever bought.

  3. A few months back I was tossing around the idea of buying a USB pocket drive so I could quickly run data from the office and home. Sure glad I didn’t that iPod Shuffle costs pretty close to the same price (at the time at least) and also plays music.

    iWork is a definite buy since I grow weary of Word and it’s lack of Quartz rendered text.

  4. I always get RIDICULOUSLY excited about Apple announcements, and today was no exception – until it became clear that despite anticipation being at fever-pitch, the iTMS STILL isn’t opening in Australia. I’ve already ordered iWork and iLife, although I think Apple needs to start thinking about rewarding .Mac members with discounts on this kind of stuff.

  5. “The new iPod is disappointing however. I like shuffle to be an option, not the rule.”

    Shuffle is not the rule, you can either have it play sequentially or shuffle.

    Khoi: Nice design, got here via Hicksy and he was correct, monochrome != easy; but I think you pulled it off.

  6. jscott: “The new iPod is disappointing however. I like shuffle to be an option, not the rule.”

    At the switch of a button, your playlist (as specified in iTunes) is the rule. Of course, all this shuffle business is just a marketing thing — no-one in their right mind would just offer a display-less MP3 player and say: “hey, look, it doesn’t have a display, but it still rocks, really”, not even Apple.

    Check out either the keynote speach, or the iPod/iTunes subsite at (in other words: check your facts =] ).

  7. Any word on a PowerBook G5 though? How long has it been since the G5 has been out and yet no PowerBook G5??

    The mini is quite snazzy… Could be a great combo with my iPod Mini :D. Always wanted to have a Mac (even if it’s just for the gooey eye candy and transparent terms).

    Everytime I go to a computer store (there’s an apple booth) with the Dual G5 PowerMac on display, it seems as if the fans are trying to suck me towards it.

    Maybe one day I’ll turn to the light side…

    And dude… nice site :). Viet guy on CSSVault… That’s the shiz!

  8. In defense of what jscott wrote: I think what he means is that it’s disappointing that you can’t play an album or a playlist straight through, that you are more or less resigned to using shuffle or playing the songs sequentially. That bugs me a little bit too; Apple’s marketing spin makes it sound like an amazing innovation that this smaller, cheaper iPod is focused on shuffling like no player before it. But really, take away the marketing and it’s true that this iPod is actually feature-poor. Still, what’s a consumer electronics company without marketing?

  9. Considering that:
    a.) OSX and OSX Server are probably as similar to each other as Windows 2000 was to Windows 2000 Server


    b.) OSX Server is suppose to run on the iMac, PowerMAC G3, G4, and G5, eMac, and xServe G5…

    The Mini should have no probs at all running it, cause it’s literally the same hardware as an iMac.

    However, considering that OSX is based on UNIX (BSD/Darwin/Mach), it should be no problem to get most nix server software on your normal old OSX. Or you can always just slap Linux/FreeBSD on it.

    But sheesh… The Mini is Mini, with a mini pricetag relative to its siblings. Thumbs up for Apple.

  10. I wouldn’t say the Mini is being pitched as a replacement for a Windows PC, I’d say it’s being pitched to Windows users who will look at the price tag and the size and decide they wouldn’t mind having it on their desk next to their Dell. I find it very tempting, and I’m a faithful Windows user.

  11. Hey, if anyone gets a Shuffle, I’m curious to know if you can plug the USB end into a keyboard USB port. Some devices need more power than the keyboard USB ports supply – I’m hoping this isn’t one of them (though Apple’s repeated mentions of a “USB extender cable” don’t reassure me…). They show it plugged into an iBook side port, but no mention of a regular keyboard USB port.

  12. Above, Brian asked about a G5 Powerbook? Well here’s one quote I found:

    During today’s quarterly conference call with stock analysts and press, CFO Peter Oppenheimer and his gang of Apple accounting and financial geeks responded to a question about when to expect a PowerBook G5 by saying that “right now, it would be the mother of all challenges.” They refused to say more about future expectations, but it’s clear that if you’re waiting for the PowerBook G5, you may be waiting for a long time.

    From here.

  13. I already need a 1Gb USB flash disk in any case! How can I not get a Shuffle? And it recharges from the USB – perfect!
    Mini – We need to check our web pages against Safari etc but could not afford a Mac for occasional use – before. Now with a switch we can run a mac and PC off the say keyboard/mouse/screen…Those mini’s will fly off the shelves. And I don’t know why everyone rubbishes the Cube – it was easily the coolest design Apple has ever made, it was just stupidly overpriced. Rather like the Newton – remember when everyone said PDA’s would never catch on (and made Skulley a laughing stock?)
    Oh well, good to see Apple riding a wave again!

    PS Lovely site.

  14. I haven’t been conscious of how fast processors have gotten on the Wintel side for quite a while (I gather the numbers have gotten way up there) so it’s kind of surprising that a 1.7GHz CPU is considered “snorish” — meaning slow, pokey, a laggard etc. — at least according to that Ars Technica article that Todd linked to. 1.7GHz? That sounds like a heck of a lot of speed.

    I do find Mac OS X kind of slow on occasion, but I’ve come to assume that’s because the OS needs to be better optimized. This perspective is probably a function of having seen each of my Macs get faster each time a new revision to the operating system is released. I’ve effectively been spoiled into thinking that the engineering geniuses at Apple can make my Macs run faster than the speed of light, if they just keep chipping away at the code.

    All of which is to say that at this point, I’m not all that excited by a simple speed upgrade like the one rumored in that article, and if Steve Jobs had made such an announcement at Macworld, I probably would have been nonplussed. On the other hand, if they’re talking about a G5 PowerBook in a hot new form factor with some snazzy new hardware features — now that would have made it a blow-out Macworld.

  15. I see that you haven’t recovered from the Intel marketing bug yet :P. Must be the unusually long amount of time you’ve spent with the light side of the force.

    Fastest chip, hands down, on the other side:
    AMD AthlonFX 55+: 2.6 GHz
    Fastest mobile chip, on the other side:
    Intel Pentium M 755(Dothan): 2.0 GHz

    Long gone are the days of the MHz wars. Even Intel cancelled their 4 GHz. Now there’s all these super-techie wording for these new features that are suppose to make these things faster yet cooler, like “SSE3”, “Hyper-threading”, “AMD64 and EMT64”, “SpeedStep”, and “Multi-core processors”.

    Who knows what Apple will come up with next. Jobs seems to like to suprise everybody. They ARE paired up with IBM remember.
    Dual-core PPC970? CELL Processor? Slimmed-version of the Power5?

    OSX 10.4 for AMD64 and EMT64 :O.

    (I’m assuming, of course, that you’ve been behind the shield of all the hoopla going on in the Intel/AMD side of the world… if you were not… I apologize)

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