Mac nano Thoughts

First, I didn't originate the name of Mac nano. I think it started here, way back in March. Rumors of a Mac nano have started back up. Let's see if I can wrap together some rumors with some circumstantial evidence and come up with some halfway believable speculation. Ready, go.

  • Apple TV is rumored to get an update

  • Apple TV is rumored to get an optical drive

  • Mac mini has been rumored to die off for months, but it hasn't happened yet.

  • Mac mini has been rumored to be selling poorly, but it is still an important product in Apple's lineup as it is the switcher Mac. I'm one of those switchers that started with a first gen Mac mini.

  • The "mini" brand has died with the iPod. The "nano" brand is strong and Apple might want to apply that to their Macs.

  • Apple TV runs a stripped down OS X

  • Front Row in Leopard has been reworked to look like the Apple TV UI. You'll also notice a DVD menu option, so the Apple TV code appears to be DVD ready.

  • The Mac mini is similar, but not the same 7.7" form factor found on the latest Airport Extreme and Apple TV.

Could it be that Apple plans to make the Apple TV a software product that can run on any Leopard Mac? For those wanting Apple TV hardware, there would be a minimally spec'd Mac nano. This would allow Apple to improve margins as they consolidate on hardware. Apple could standardize on the 7.7" form factor and hopefully get the power supply from the Mac mini internal. The Apple TV power supply is already internal. The only hitch here is that folks would want to run that minimally spec'd Mac nano as a computer as well. Could Apple put out a $299 computer? Would they want to? That's a price point $300 lower than the current low end Mac mini. I think they'd want to maintain their current pricepoint spread. That low end Mac nano could be a hacker's paradise though.

Could the Mac nano be the first flash based Mac? A 16GB fanless computer would be plenty good for lots of folks, especially as secondary or kids computers. Ditching the fan would help chop the height a bit too. I 'shopped up what a Mac nano might look like over on the left. I'm sure you can piece it together, but I started with an Apple TV, cleaned the top and put on the black apple from the new iMacs. I then raised the top a bit and added in the optical drive and IR sensor from a Mac mini.

I personally don't think the $299 price point would be possible for what I'm suggesting here. $399, maybe. $499 definitely.
In any case, it seems the Apple TV and Mac mini are too close to not merge in some form.

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