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Where's the Mac?

August 8, 2007

Have you been to a tech conference lately? They’re dominated, absolutely dominated, by MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Their employers are happy to buy them because they’re fast, reliable and productive. I know I love mine. But ask any of those happy MacBook-toting people what they have on their desks at work, and they’ll admit to having a Dell.

So I found it interesting that at Apple’s big Mac event yesterday, Apple blew it with the Mac again. Steve fielded some questions about Mac adoption in the workplace, and another about price. But he skirts completely around the issue at hand: Apple has a huge, gaping hole in their desktop lineup. They have an iMac, a Mac mini, and a Mac Pro. But where’s the Mac?

At SmugMug, we’d put a Mac on every employee’s desk tomorrow. So what exactly is a Mac? That’s easy – it’s a Mac Pro with one dual-core Desktop class Intel CPU in it. Two (or four!) Server class dual-core CPUs (Xeons) are overkill both for performance and for budgets. I know – we’ve got some at our office, and I’m writing this on my Mac Pro at home.

Why not just use iMacs? Please. No business is going to buy desktop computers that require you to throw the display out when the CPU/RAM/etc get old. Displays last multiple generations of CPUs, particularly in the workplace.

Why not use Mac minis? Man, I wish! I love the little guys. But our employees, especially those writing code or doing lots of Photoshop work, are more productive with dual-displays. (Dual 30″ displays, if you really want to know). The Mac mini can only drive one, and not even the 30″ models. (You’d think Apple would want to drive sales of those 30″ displays, but I guess not?). So 2 x dual-link DVI is a requirement, and it’s a lot more common than you might think. Been to Google lately?

Also, like many IT departments in this day-and-age of cheap hard disks, we like to do RAID-1 on our employee’s desktops to reduce data loss. Mac OS X does great RAID-1 out-of-the-box, if only there were desktop computers to run it on…

So we need a Mac. Something like $500-1000 cheaper than a Mac Pro, powerful enough for most employees, and flexible enough for most jobs. Perfection – not to mention completing Apple’s lineup.

Oh, and when I talk to those same tech conference attendees (or their bosses!), I hear the same sad story. We’re all forced to head on over to dell.com to fill the void instead – or pony up extra for Mac Pros that we really don’t need.

Guess which option most employers choose.😦

UPDATE: Lots of comments all over the web on this story and how it’s not just for the workplace. Complaints about poor graphics cards in iMac/Mac mini making gaming impossible, people upset that they’d have to throw away their iMac monitor along with the CPU, etc. As a hard-core gamer, I have to agree – the gap is wider than just work machines. I’d rather have a Mac than a Mac Pro at home, too.

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Categories: business
  1. luc
    August 8, 2007 at 2:41 am

    they might just do that after(if?)they kill de mac mini for all those customers who don’t want an all-in-one device and won’t pay for the mac pro.

  2. Julian
    August 8, 2007 at 4:49 am

    Exactly my thoughts! I would buy a “Mac” instantly!!!
    Mac Pro is just too pro and and Mac mini too mini!!!

  3. Julian Gall
    August 8, 2007 at 6:51 am

    Not to mention that Mac Minis are too easily stolen to be used in the average office. This from the point of view of desirabilty as well as size.

  4. August 8, 2007 at 9:50 am

    Spot on. Even at home when I had to choose a PC, I had to choose a iMac even though I already have really nice monitors. Same reasons you state, which sucks.

    Even today, I wonder if it was a bad move since I would be throwing away a good monitor when I have to throw away the iMac.

  5. August 8, 2007 at 10:02 am

    All of my programmers use Mac Minis or iMacs (though I use a MacBook Pro :)) while the designers use G5s or Mac Pros and the others (marketing, etc) use PowerBooks and MacBook Pros.

    With the iMacs and Mac Minis as powerful as they are I’m surprised you have a problem. Try out an iMac sometime. Seriously. They’re great.

  6. Chip Mason
    August 8, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Here, here!! I have always wondered why Apple would allow such an obvious gap to exist for SO long. I am a Windows user, not because it is what I love, it is because that is what I have. I needed a new PC, one that would help with photography, video, etc. The Mac is supposed to fit this bill perfectly, right? No, it doesn’t. There is no PC for me from Apple.

    For a new user, the iMac nat be ideal since they just want a new PC. My dad got one, but there was no ‘baggage”..he just started using it, putting the old PC away.

    But I have an existing monitor, that costs nearly as much as a Mac mini, I have two SATA drives, I have two DVD writers, etc. I need a machine that offers me, the power user, options to add my hard drives and peripherals, but doesn’t require me to take out a mortgage on a machine that will render a Pixar movie in an afternoon. I don’t need that. I need a Mac that will let me add some hard drives, DVD drives, and has enough horsepower to run my big monitor. In other words, if I switch from Windows, I don’t want to compromise, in cost or capability.

    (and yes I know I can connect all this stuff via usb boxes to a mini, but come on, 4 USB boxes, with a power brick each? Oh and what about the crappy Intel graphics? Heck I will just buy a motherboard, chip and enclosure for less, and stick with Windows)

  7. Joe Matuscak
    August 8, 2007 at 10:34 am

    I’d also argue the physical size needs to be between the mini and the pro. The pro box takes up a humongous amount of space in an office (particularly a cube ranch). Most of our PCs are HP small form factors with enough room for multiple monitor cards, a DVD, front panel USB, etc.

  8. August 8, 2007 at 11:11 am

    Very good observation. I think this reveals Apple’s focus on the consumer and individual pro user rather than an IS department. For laptops there’s no question Apple’s are the best. For high end powerhouses, there’s no question Apple’s are the best.

    For consumer level powerhouses, iMacs will give HP and Dell a run for their money (but with more money).

    However, Apple doesn’t seem to focus much on general Enterprise needs, on purpose. They don’t provide long term product roadmaps, which IS managers want to see, and they don’t seem to be setup to handle large scale service contracts for the Enterprise.

    I love ’em, and I guess I’m glad I’m not an IS director…

  9. Ben
    August 8, 2007 at 11:15 am

    It isn’t just Enterprise though. I have really nice monitors at home for my home pc, and I won’t EVER buy an iMac for that reason. I don’t need to buy overpriced Apple monitors that I don’t need, and will discard when I upgrade my PC.

    Mac mini is underpowered for stuff I do. And Mac Pro is overpriced.

    So it would fill a big niche in enterprise, but also in the home.

  10. August 8, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Great post Don. I wrote about nearly the exact same issue that I’m having with Apple (in a slightly different way) in my blog here:


    How can we change Apple’s thinking about the xMac?


  11. August 8, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    Well, you hit it on the head, we all have macbooks and MBpro’s. we dont need a ‘mac’ we just use the laptop and hook it up to 24″ monitor.. then we take our work with us.. i guess they figure the audience you are talkign about does the same as us – and every other mac use i know.. most people opt for mobile.

  12. Jeff
    August 8, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Uhm… you’re overlooking the obvious.
    Get an office filled with iMacs, but have them connected to an Xserve w/ a RAID. Keep all data on the RAID.
    People can synchronise their data, or have remote home folders, or a remote file folder.
    That way if an iMac goes down, an employee can hop on another computer and keep working.

  13. platypussy
    August 8, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Well, You just answered Your own question. You don’t need Mac.

    Let me get it straight:
    1. There is no Mac filling Your needs
    2. Because of point ‘1’, you use Windows/Linux PC

    Bottom line: You get your job done with Windows/Linux PC so why do You even care about Apple’s computer? Because they look nice? C’mon, You are not 15 year old teenager, are You?!

  14. Pat
    August 8, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Why not use mini’s for everyone that does not need to run Photoshop/code writing. Then for those that need more of a machine/dual 30inch monitors can have a choice of MacBook Pro or 24inch iMac?

    It makes ordering a little more tedious since you are not ordering x amount of 1 machine, but I doubt you do that anyway.

  15. DCJM
    August 8, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    I’m a recent PC convert to Apple. I understand the whole “I can still use this part” thing since back when I was a PC user, that’s what I did, New Motherboard/CPU combo here, new monitor there, and so on. I guess the fact that I actually work with Server Hardware for a pretty large enterprise, I decided I just wanted something that worked at home, not something to tinker around with. I think that is what Apple wants to target. Not the “let’s see what’s on sale on Newegg” crowd. Just the “I want to turn it on, have everthing I need” crowd. I think the price constitutes the premium that had to be paid for such a luxury. You see, I have chosen to turn a deaf ear to, “I need to have the ability to have more memory on my video card”. I don’t need details, I just want to make sure I am getting a good product. It’s like buying a Honda with the option to “modify” it a-la Fast and the Furious. I instead want to buy a BMW and know it will work. I don’t care about what accessories it comes with.

  16. August 8, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. If I want a desktop solution from apple I really don’t have one unless its a mac pro. and something starting at $2499 is totally out of reach when I get that from a DELL and something that is very maxed out to meet a flash developer or designers needs! Apple find us a middle man and don’t say the iMac is it! We need the dual display setup and setup right!

  17. wwt
    August 8, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Make it the size of a Mac IIci/Quadra 700 or a little smaller that works in both desktop and tower orientations.

    Allow for 1 intel CPU, 2 disk drives, 2 video cards (SLI) and 4-8 memory slots.

  18. Jimothy
    August 8, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    I agree with you that there should be a Mac. But get your Photoshop folks a Mac Pro. Really, they need it.

  19. Chris
    August 8, 2007 at 2:12 pm

    The only major flaw I see in your logic about the iMac is that you can upgrade the RAM and the Hard Drive. Yes, you have to pop the case open to do it, or if you’re a complete wussie, you can take it to a Mac specialist to do it. Regardless, the iMac IS their answer to that supposed gap you speak of. The new ones (released 8/7/07) in particular have a lot of power and expansion options to choose from, making them reasonably-priced desktop solutions.

  20. Luca
    August 8, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    I just dont understand this post… which gap are you talking about?
    people who work in design driven industries work with a MacPro. for any other business a mini or an iMac is more than enough. why would you need more? to do spreadheets?
    there are already too many people playing the “I’m smarter than Steve Jobs” game…

  21. Wes
    August 8, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    When you get back to your desk, hook your MacBook or MacBook Pro up to an external LCD, keyboard and mouse. The end.

    Not only is this cheaper than a desktop solution plus a notebook solution, you are spared all the pain-in-the-ass datasynching.

  22. Chad Robinson
    August 8, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    Okay, this may sound lame, but I honestly suggest we try to start a write-in campaign, and even pledge to buy units, if only they will make one of these for years. A single-CPU Mac desktop with a few AGP slots open for video cards (or whatever) priced to within $800-$1200.

  23. Rob Covert
    August 8, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    I don’t get all the comments about not getting an iMac jsut because you already own a monitor? Just by the iMac and hook up the other monitor to it. Now you have two monitors and you can be twice as productive.

  24. August 8, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    I should be used to this now, but it’s always sorta shocking when it happens – getting on the homepage on digg results in terrible comments.

    Prior to making the homepage, the comments were intelligent and had clearly read the article.

    Afterwards, almost all of them show they didn’t even read a single word.

    I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I realize Reading Is Hard, but still…

  25. Ryan Jung
    August 8, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Y’know, Mac should seriously consider cheapening their prices. I guarantee it doesn’t cost two grand to make one computer. I don’t plan on spending that much money on $500 functionality any time soon. Yes, Mac OSX is an unbelievable OS, but it’s just Linux, which I can get for free because it’s open-source. What’s the big deal with Macs? I just don’t get it!

  26. tripB
    August 8, 2007 at 2:26 pm

    This is the lamest post. The iMac IS the product between the Mini and the Pro, that is it’s very niche. Seems like Apple’s very simple, straight-forward product line-up still flies over some heads.

  27. Jeremy
    August 8, 2007 at 2:34 pm

    It seems like the author and most of the people posting here are Windows types and probably fairly young, so this will probably fall on deaf ears, but…. You are so completely wrong on this it’s laughable. You also contradict your argument in your own article quite a few times.

    The Mac “desktop” class machine *is* the iMac, and if you do the thousands of surveys and so on that Apple has already done you will find that it is what the majority of the people want. The idea that Apple is trying to force people to use machines like this instead of “what they want” is just stupid. They make more money than any other computer company. How could they do this by providing overpriced junk that people don’t want? Answer: they can’t. They actually provide what the people (and the market wants).

    You say in the article that you just want a “desktop mac” but then you go on to describe why and all the reasons, are reasons why you would want a *Pro* Desktop not a regular one.

    This is totally contradictory. The graphics card necessary for dual displays (dual 30″ no less!), for instance is not something that comes with or would likely fit in or work with the mid-range desktop that you are hoping for. RAID is not something you would find on an average desktop either. You are describing a “Pro” desktop environment, and Apple does have this for sale. They offer the *best* Pro Desktop experience bar none on the planet, and yes, you have to *pay* for that.

    Finally, that stupid old saw about not wanting to “throw out the screen” when the CPU gets old is just nonsense. iMacs are usable for several years longer than the average Windows PC and rarely break-down or need any service at all. I have had dozens of Windows computers over the years and I built them all myself from parts so I am quite aware of how long it is before you need to change the parts out as well. Whereas I had to change the memory, Graphics card, peripherals CD drives and eventually the MB of my Windows computers that has *never* been necessary on the Macs that I have owned and I have had everything from a 1990 era Mac Classic on up.

    Eventually with a Windows computer you have to throw out even the case and start over again and this is true for the Mac also. Every computer has it’s day after all. But in the time that most people have about 1.5 Windows machines with multiple upgrades and improvements of the hardware in between, the average Mac user is just deciding that their Mac might need replacing.

  28. richard
    August 8, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    “But our employees, especially those writing code or doing lots of Photoshop work, are more productive with dual-displays. (Dual 30″ displays, if you really want to know).”

    If your employee can supply you dual 30″ why can’t it give you MacPro?
    C’mon be real 30″ display cost more then 1 CPU.

    Mac Mini fit for Spreadsheet and Typing documents. So which gap are you talking about again?

  29. August 8, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I agree, but don’t agree with your viewpoints. Yes, Apple is missing that “Mac.” I’ve been saying it for ages as well. I would love the insides of my iMac to sit in a smaller Mac Pro case, so I can have my HDD’s inside, instead of externally.

    But you know what? Apple isn’t completely stupid. A Mac now certainly wouldn’t make sense because of all the pulled resources for the iPhone and Leopard. More importantly, I don’t think that market is where Apple wants to go… yet.

    Say they did drop a Mac, would they be ready for the masses to pick one up? There is such a thing as growing too quickly, and the mobile market seems to be Apple’s focus right now. Hell, they haven’t figured out the Apple TV exactly yet either.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing this, but at best, it’s in the future. It sure would solve a lot of issues w/ have with buying macs for our design department. I would not say Apple has blew it, since they seem to be doing quite nicely for themselves right now. They just don’t cater to people like us (but I caved and bought an iMac anyway).

  30. Anon
    August 8, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Why not just use a MacBook (Pro) in clamshell mode?

  31. August 8, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    tripB has it right on.

    You speak of owning monitors that cost as much as a Mac Mini, if you’re ponying up that much cash then a Mac Pro should hardly be out of your reach.

    You speak of Mac Mini’s not being able to drive Apple’s premier 30″ display. Again, if you’re dropping $1800 on a monitor, I’d question why you think a bare bones model computer should be able to power it?

    If designers need *dual 30″ monitors* it’s ludicrous that they wouldn’t be on a Pro model. You’re in pro environments and asking for sub-prop computers.

    >>Y’know, Mac should seriously consider cheapening their prices. I guarantee it doesn’t cost two grand to make one computer. I don’t plan on spending that much money on $500 functionality any time soon. Yes, Mac OSX is an unbelievable OS, but it’s just Linux, which I can get for free because it’s open-source. What’s the big deal with Macs? I just don’t get it!

  32. Rob
    August 8, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    It seems as if most of the people who don’t find the alleged hole a problem show no IT or corporate experience, whether it been equipment logistics or justifying purchasing decisions.

  33. August 8, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Don, I am sure you got a trackback, but I thought I would add my own thoughts to your post on my site, please view and comment if you like.



  34. Ryan
    August 8, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    First off, I just want to say ignore all the people who say don’t use Macs, just buy a Windows PC, because if you listen to them, they will all crash and you will lose stuff. Happened to me and thats when I switched to the Mac.
    But yes, Apple needs something in between the Mini and the Mac Pro that is not the iMac. I think they should either make a really powerful more expandable Mac Mini, or allow the option to get the iMac without the all in one.

  35. August 8, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Great writeup Don! We’re facing a similar situation where I work. In our case we resorted to MacBook & MacBook pro’s, and just let people use the external displays at work. More expensive yes, but everyone’s been thrilled.

    Say ‘hi’ to Baldy for me!


  36. mark
    August 8, 2007 at 3:12 pm

    “Their employers are happy to buy [MacBook Pros] because they’re fast, reliable and productive. I know I love mine.”

    “No business is going to buy computers that require you to throw the display out when the CPU/RAM/etc get old.”

  37. Chris
    August 8, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    The Mac is necessary because Apple is catching on with the young tech-savy population, not just middle-aged moms and high-end design pros. I know many people who won’t give up the ability to add a HDD or video card and don’t want to shell out $3000 for a Mac Pro. Give me iMac specs in a smaller Pro case and I’d buy it in a minute.

  38. Gimmeslack12
    August 8, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    I was ready to read this article and then bitch and moan, but you actually have a pretty good point. Particularly about the monitors and iMacs when the computer side gets dated.

    An affordable Mac tower is needed. A MacPro mini if you will. This would be a useful addition, or just get rid of the Mini. Or fuse the Mini and AppleTV and introduce a MiniTower Mac.

  39. August 8, 2007 at 3:17 pm

    I understand the desire for something between the mini and the Pro, without being an all-in-one. Apple has always excelled at that very odd thing, the all-in-one computer. My first Mac was a Plus, of all things! But it would be nice to have something more than a mini but less than a Pro. For this reason, I haven’t purchased a new Mac for some time, making do with old ones (quite nicely, actually — I’m typing this on a PowerMac G4 dual 500MHz machine).

    But I understand the problem. I have wanted a super-mini the width of the APPLEtv and twice the height, able to use two monitors as well as one very large one.

    Now I’m thinking of getting an iMac. Why? You can add a monitor to it! Dual monitors! The iMac has had this capability since the early 2006 model.

    The problem solved. I am buying one later today.

  40. bchoward
    August 8, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    Just buy older versions of the pro desktop line. They’re generally at the right price point, and still plenty capable of doing whatever needs to be done.

  41. bashlys
    August 8, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Mid-powered and priced macs is a terrible idea . . . You either need the power or you do not; Further, the imac fills your gap but for a separate monitor . . . THe cost b/w a good dell desktop w/out a monitor and the superior imac is not significant and is awful justification for purchasing a piece of crap…

  42. August 8, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Yes! Actually the Pizza box form factor would be ideal for a machine like this, enough to separate it from the rest of the Apple line but yet easy enough to swap components. I’d like to see what Apple would do with a pizza box. Maybe it would look kinda like a wider thinner version of the mini? Who knows.

  43. juiceman
    August 8, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    i think the mini is gonna be killed off and then apple will release some sort of mini-tower. oh, and just for the record, mac osx=linux that you pay for

  44. Nicolas Goles
    August 8, 2007 at 4:12 pm

    I can’t agree MORE with you. You are totally right, I have used mac ALL my life ( since 1987, and I was born in 1985 ). So I’m not a new mac user.

    I have a MacBook and a G5 at home. I still want to replace the G5. But, with what? iMac? HELL no, I need at least 2x SATA HD and some hability to expand. My G5 has lasted 3 years and will take a couple more with ease. But I would love to have Intel processor in my Desktop to be able to develop in multiple platforms at desktop too , not just in my macbook.

    So, a Mac Pro is overkill for me, iMac = No. Mac mini ? , it’s an awesome piece of work as you said, but It lacks of a 2nd display ,( which I need too ).

    A mac pro light would be just ideal, i would instant buy.

  45. Hegemon
    August 8, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    I don’t think Apple will ever offer an intermediate option; simply because they cannot compete in that market and they know it.

    Apple trades on high quality components and engineering, which matter to a workstation user or someone in the market for a compact or “no baggage”/”beginner”/”low maintenance” computer. However, to put the same amount of engineering into a midrange desktop would drive its price far out of a competitive range, and its benefits would only be marginal because it is essentially made to be disposable when an upgrade is needed. Putting together a simple commodity machine with OS X and OEM components is not something that they wish to do, since then they lose their profitability because most of their money comes from hardware. This also implies that they have to take flak for failing OEM boxes, which would most likely hurt the brand. Thus you have to be willing to pay one of the most glaring “Apple taxes” ever to attain a midrange box, or have a machine no better than your average Dell with an Apple sticker slapped on the side. There doesn’t seem to exist a solution that satisfies all parties, and thus Apple leaves the already crowded midrange market to other brands while it concentrates on the markets where its engineering and marketing can make the most difference.

  46. August 8, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    100% correct – a duo Mac with an upgradable graphics board would not only provide graphics designers with a legitimate alternative, but would also ressurect Macs as a viable gaming alternative for consumers. And let’s face it – that’s a market which drives hardware upgrades more so than any other.

    Steve Jobs, give us a Mac Pro light!!!

  47. Bill
    August 8, 2007 at 4:52 pm

    No one uses Macs in the workplace because Macs are for hippies, pussies, musicians and other people without jobs.

  48. akennedy
    August 8, 2007 at 4:53 pm

    Is it unreasonable (for warranty reasons) to build your own PC and then separately purchase OS X and install it? Can you get support if you use supported hardware?

  49. ben
    August 8, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    this is precisely the dillemma that has kept me from buying a home mac. i had hoped something unpredicted would come out yesterday, but alas i’m stuck in the same boat. the pros are just too expensive for a home user that isn’t doing video all day long. i don’t need four cores. plus, i’ll need to add more drives (in order to do raid 0 on my workspace) and RAM, so it really gets pricely (nearly $4k!).

    i already have two great 24″ monitors, and as you observed in the workplace, even at home my monitors always outlast the systems. the idea of an imac drives me nuts because of tying the monitor to it, and also because of its lack of flexibility.

    sigh. my biggest problem is that i’m sick of XP and Vista is junk. so i’m leaning towards the mini for now. problem is, once you add 2GB ram and a dvd-r drive, the mini ends up costing as much as a flexible desktop from dell! i keep hoping they’ll come out with something to fill this hole, but…

  50. macpunc
    August 8, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    I have to agree, Apple are missing out by not having a Mac option as desktop

  51. August 8, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    I agree. There’s also a MacBook gap between the Black MacBook and the 15″ MacBook Pro. Not as wide a gap mind you, but there’s certainly a price point that can fit in between there.

    The other option for employers is to simply get a MacBook Pro and use a docking station/port replicator. http://www.bookendzdocks.com/Products-Docking_Stations.html

    Why buy a laptop AND a desktop for a single employee? Reconfigurability/upgradability come to mind. The ability to drive multiple monitors. Still those aren’t needed for the majority of people. Then again, not all employees need a laptop.

  52. Weakly
    August 8, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    You mean to tell me you don’t have to throw out the monitor when an iBook gets old?

    There seems to be a flaw in your logic here. Also, why not just give the iMacs to the less-demanding users in accounting, management, etc when they get old? And the iMac supports an extra monitor, so there’s that problem solved, too. Sheesh.

  53. August 8, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    I recommend to everyone (as long as they are not a video/audio producer) to use a MacBook/MacBook Pro with a monitor and keyboard. That solves most, if not all issues for us!

  54. August 8, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    You mean something like this?

  55. Dan
    August 8, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    This is EXACTLY why I haven’t bought a Mac already. I have 24″ and 21″ monitors that cost me a lot of cash which I’d rather not waste. I play games, use some reasonably demanding software. Like most people. Why isn’t there a Mac for me?

  56. Nick
    August 8, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    This is exactly what I was hoping for when the first gen Mac mini was announced. I bought that computer (typing this on it now). I was really pining for a mid-range headless Mac desktop that was upgradable but reasonably priced. Apple is missing a GIANT chunk of marketshare because of this in my opinion. Even after overclocking my mini to 1.58Ghz and slapping a 200GB firewire drive on it to boot from, its got nothing on today’s intel machines. I just got a blackbook and its smoking fast. Let me take that – or rather the new iMac specs and put it in an upgradable minitower! Will somebody start a petition and send it to Steve already???

  57. Ben
    August 8, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    Very good points. Until they come out with a midrange tower/mini-tower system, I’ll stick with my PC (which I’m happy with, but enjoy using Macs too). I have an excellent display at home, and have no need to replace it. I also don’t have room for a dual setup consisting of my current screen and an iMac. I think adding a “normal” Mac to their lineup would give a good boost to sales. It would certainly be tempting to a geek/photographer like myself.

    And I think a lot of commenters missed a big point of the post when they recommend just buying a Macbook or MBP and attach it to external monitor. Yeah, that might be a good idea if you don’t mind integrated graphics, etc (macbooks) or don’t mind shelling out at least $2k for a MBP. Neither one of those options is viable if you are looking to spend about $1k and/or already have a laptop.

  58. August 8, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    You have 2 options;
    1. Pay for what you want. If your business is that good, it can afford it. Don’t compromise.
    2. Buy up on Dell. If your business can’t afford it, compromise.

    You’ll notice that expecting Apple to make this compromise for you is not an option.
    Why? Because Apple does not compromise, that’s the game of losers.

  59. 3davideo
    August 8, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Easy! Get a used tower mac (powermac or mac pro). Cheaper and good performance.

  60. Stephen
    August 8, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    Re “throwing away” a good display, we just sell our old iMacs. They get decent prices. Employees get first dibs. Often they buy their own computers to take home, or to give to their parents. And general office employees are thrilled to get what may be obsolete for the engineering staff. (By the way, you can put an external display on an iMac, and have been able to for a year and a half or so.)

  61. Randy O
    August 8, 2007 at 9:21 pm

    Or, you could do what I did. I waited for the new iMac announcement, and seeing that they made them *thinner* (WTH?!?) instead of releasing a “not-Pro” Mac, I decided to build my own, checking the hardware guide at insanelymac. (Now I get to do RAID 0+1!)

    Steve, if you’re listening: I would have happily paid for an iMac, had the screen been separated from the computer. I would *rather* have paid, to be honest. But I needed a desktop computer, and Apple refuses to make mine.

    Give me a headless Mac that doesn’t suck like the mini (integrated graphics, slow 2.5″ HD, impossible to upgrade), and doesn’t cost a fortune for overkill (*cough* Mac Pro), and I’ll be there, in line, with $$ in my hand.

  62. Chris
    August 8, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    A few months ago I had to purchase a new computer. A Mac Mini was not sufficient, and my dream MacBook purchase was simply out of price range. Where was the Mac? The standard desktop that does not use laptop parts and is economical, yet efficient. If Steve Jobs puts to market a Mac, I would have purchased one — now it is too late. I’m with Windows for another cycle, but strongly long for the day when I can dump Microsoft and call a piece of OSX hardware my very own.

  63. Bahi
    August 8, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    I’d expect the iMacs (aluminium, glass) to hold their values pretty well, if current prices on aluminium PowerBooks and early MBPs are anything to go by. Last time I checked, people were paying frighteningly close to MacBook money for old PowerBooks – the aluminium (and, before it, titanium) really helps resale value. So if you got iMacs with decent displays, drives and cards, you could attach secondary displays (since they have video out and spanning) and sell them when you were done – making TCO very reasonable. (Not that prices are high to start with.)

  64. Erik
    August 8, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    I work at a non-profit arts organization and we’ve been using iMacs for years. The all-in-one design gives us more usable work space. We’re just starting to update our snow iMacs (which are still good and we’re donating them to another non-profit) to the newer design. If we had a “Mac” like one that you’re suggesting, it would probably cut our work space by a quarter.

  65. Frances
    August 8, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Simple solution:
    Macbook black + display

    Desktop G4 + dual monitor.

    =Not mac mini, not mac pro.

    I use a black macbook and it’s great. Powerful little beast. Runs FCP like a charm. If you can afford an Apple 30″ (heck even 2 24″) then obviously there’s a large cashflow so I doubt getting an apple desktop, be it old G4 or new Pro is beyond your reach.

  66. Will A. Carpenter
    August 8, 2007 at 11:52 pm

    I agree 100% My old rig is getting tired, very tired. It’s drives are getting full, it’s several generations behind these days, and I really don’t want to go through the hassle of building another new machine.

    I’m not as big of a geek as I used to be, nor as big a geek as I used to think I was. I was a serious geek, why? Because I had lots of free time, no money to toss into a blazing computer, and a lot of nerd and geek friends to help me out if I had troubles (and always at least one old machine sitting around that I could use to connect to the internet if everything went to hell).

    I’ve become more of a casual user, and I enjoy apple’s products…but there’s no machine that feel “right” to me in the apple lineup. I’d love a mac mini…but it feels like a waste of money to not be able to do various things with it (as you mention, no dual screen? come on!) and I already OWN a giant screen…should I set a 20″ iMac screen next to my 20″ Dell screen? One white…one black…I can see some really awesome theme options here…but still, no. Also while I don’t want to build my new machine…doesn’t mean I won’t upgrade it from time to time.

    So why not the mac pro? Because I REALLY don’t need that much machine! Especially not at THAT price.

    The fact of the matter is, I’d love to spend the cash and get an awesome mac…but if I’m going to spend the money… it needs to really fit my needs like a glove. Otherwise I’ll just bite the bullet and build my own…even though the love isn’t there anymore..



  67. Ben Long
    August 9, 2007 at 12:25 am

    Why would anyone buy an iMac if they could purchase a Mac and an inexpensive LCD?

    It’s not a gap – it’s an intentional strategy to force you to decide for yourself what is necessary to meet your computing needs.

    If you need ‘more’, you will pay ‘more’.

  68. DF
    August 9, 2007 at 12:33 am

    Don: I wrote about just this issue a while back:


    I just called mine the “Mythical Midrange Mac Minitower,” or MMMM for short😉

  69. August 9, 2007 at 12:53 am

    They will probably bring something out eventually. This story has generated enough response to perk the ears at cupertino.

  70. Rob
    August 9, 2007 at 12:56 am

    Not making generic midtower office boxes is one of the things that really distinguishes Apple hardware nowadays. I think it’s pretty funny that you’re whining about not being able to build the “perfect” system to hook up to your poor neglected 30″ cinema displays. I’m running a 4 year old powerbook g4 into an 8 year old LCD, and it works just fine for my needs. If you can’t find a decent fit somewhere between the new Mini, the iMac, the MacBooks, the MBP’s and the Pro, you are just not looking honestly at your needs.

  71. StephenCIreland
    August 9, 2007 at 1:18 am

    I think your right, back in the 17/20/24″ core 2 white iMacs i had to buy a 20″ imac with CTO 256mb graphics ram for gaming, when I get rid of this computer the display is gone too, I need dual displays ( I have a 2nd 19″ on my wall for TV, RSS feeds etc…) but i just couldnt strech to the cost of even the lowest end Mac Pro and a 20″ cinema display

  72. August 9, 2007 at 1:22 am

    Stop moaning that Apple doesn’t have what you want, and go to someone who does. Or build your own computer.

    Brand loyalty is foolish. Go with the best product for what you need. If Dell offer that, then use Dell. If it’s Acer, go with Acer. Or build one to match your own requirements perfectly.

    Oh, and any of the above will be cheaper than the Mac option, if and when it comes.

  73. Joe
    August 9, 2007 at 2:03 am

    While I think that Apple is clearly missing out on a significant amount of marketshare, if you apply the BMW business model to Apple, the rationale behind not offering a mid-range Mac becomes much clearer. Apple simply doesn’t want the mid-range market. Mid range towers represent the Toyota Camrys and Honda Accords of the computer world. The range is highly competitive, with established brands selling the best. I have no doubt that if Apple decided to sell a mid-tower, they would sell well, but the profits per unit would be slim due to market saturation. There are simply too many brands to choose from, and too many outlets to buy from. The target market for these computers are more likely to be people who are looking for a good price/performance ratio (a market that Apple was unsuccessful in, google Macintosh Performa to see what I mean). They could really care less about how their computer looked, or if it ran Mac OS X, they simply wanted a decent computer.

    Just as Honda or Toyota spend a only a fraction of their resources on the aesthetics and design of their cars compared to BMW, HP and Dell spend only a fraction of what Apple puts into hardware design. (Look inside the case of a Mac Pro and a comparable Dell Workstation to see my point) When HP and Dell produce a new mid-tower, they simply apply an algorithm to maximize profit/performance and release the new SKU. Apple on the other hand, has to gamble on the significant cost of development before a single computer is sold. People expect Macs to be on the cutting edge of design, and such innovation requires a significant initial investment. Apple expects to sell computers for a larger margin than HP or Dell in order to recoup some of this development cost. While HP and Dell have been making more of an attempt to incorporate good design into their computers, it is Apple that has made consumers come to expect it.

    The simple fact of the matter is that like BMW, Apple is an innovator. The design schemes that Apple introduces resonate through the industry, with imitators appearing left and right soon after introduction (Look at the effect of the iPod on the MP3 market). Mid-range towers are not innovative, they are cost effective. They are simply machines of compromise and if you understand anything about Steve Jobs, it is that he doesn’t compromise very often.

  74. August 9, 2007 at 2:14 am

    I’d give my staff the option of having their pay deducted by $600 to have the option for a Mac Pro. And I’d tell them that I’d refund it in their bonus if they can show that it’s increased productivity.

    Of course, I wouldn’t deduct the $600 in the first place – but that would give you an undisputably clear picture of the value that your staff give to having the option of working on a Mac vs a PC.

    I reckon you’d get well over 50% of takers.

  75. Carwyn
    August 9, 2007 at 2:26 am

    Every time I upgrade my PC (every year or two) I look at the Apple lineup hoping they have something at the right price point. I’m a software engineer by trade who likes to tinker when I’m at home and also play the occasional game. iMacs and Minis just don’t cut it for the games I want to play. They might do on release just about, but not in 6 months to a year. I want to be able to change the graphics card and maybe even the CPU. The Mac Pro is easily twice what I want to pay for my home machine and due to the component selection is twice the price to upgrade too.

    A “Mac” is exactly what I want.

  76. APK
    August 9, 2007 at 4:54 am

    Those of you that have Macs in your office, does your it department centrally manage the machines or are you allowed to do what you want to them?

    What does apple have that compares with Active Directory? I looked at Open Directory but its more like the NT model. There are also a ton of enterprise apps for Wintel machines.

  77. Ric
    August 9, 2007 at 5:24 am

    Won’t happen, as it would kill MacPro sales, which have a higher margin.

    I have a sneaking suspicion part of the drive for the glossy screen on the new iMac was to prevent cannibalisation of MacPro sales into graphic design sites.

  78. August 9, 2007 at 6:42 am

    Apple would own my home if they would simply deliver this! I am interning for a fortune 500 and my co-workers have watched me drool over a Mac Pro the entire time! Unfortunately, the cost, which will require me to sell my Mini & linux box, is simply painful! Give me t3h MAC!!!!

  79. B.W. McAdams
    August 9, 2007 at 6:52 am

    Sounds familiar. As IT Director, when my team decided (I hired a team, we had nothing before) we’d run on Macs, I had to figure out if Mac Pros were worth it. We’re doing web development, and a Mac Pro is overkill. Not to mention hard to justify if the corporate people come knocking on the door.

    We went with iMacs, and use a second external display but the fact is, they use laptop parts in the iMac to keep it small and it’s definitely not as beefy as a desktop could be.

    I’d kill for a decent ‘justMac’ to fill the desks here.

  80. August 9, 2007 at 7:53 am

    LOL @ the update. If you were a “hardcore gamer” you’d be having the time of your life on a PC instead of messing around with Macs.

  81. Sailomb
    August 9, 2007 at 7:57 am

    Right now you can get get a new mac pro for $2030 (with education discount and 2.0 GHz quad core). If you can just opt to put intel core 2 duo chips in the mac pro, you can drop the price down about $500 bucks…me thinks. Also if you use the stardard Ram chips, not the super fast and costly chips the PRO uses, it could be even cheaper. I too desperately need this machine at home. I use my mabook with a 24″ dell monitor and I am happy with the performance, but the 80GB HD is constantly having to be erased for more space. I will probably end up upgrading the HD to a 160GB unit. But it sure would be nice to have a MAC at a $1200-$1500 dollar price point.

  82. August 9, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Mac has lost the market. The company is unfocused. It will soon be in the dustbin. The machines they make are the playthings of tech geeks and people who like to imagine themselves as mavericks…not the average PC user or Business person.

    Guess what, there are more of the latter than the former, and the company ain’t catering to the masses. A recipe for future failure.

  83. Capt
    August 9, 2007 at 9:47 am

    Mac has NOT lost the market, I have to disagree with you there. Mac has NEVER catered to the masses, remember? They tend to be, and have always been for the most part a graphics design / video production marketed machine. I know video pro. guys whom won’t touch a PC to edit video. While I agree 100% with what this man has to say (a good, cheap, upgradable desktop IS still missing from Apple’s line up) ; their sales of PC’s is still #3 in the US – with only Acer & Dell selling more PCs. People whom use Macs now (used to be) PC users for the most part ; and among the reasons for dumping their pcs : windows stands at the top. OSX is far more stable, and (for the time being) doesn’t get 99.9% of the crap windows users have to deal with. Yeah, we all have PCs at work – and yeah – about 50-60% of those PCs at work have some form of Malware / Spyware on them. They slow productivity down ; because we have to call techs constantly to fix OS problems on PCs at work.

  84. August 9, 2007 at 9:08 pm

    Great article, read it twice now. I’ve often thought there was a need for such a product too. But I do have one question:

    I understand that the high price of the Mac Pro is hard to swallow for IT departments. But if the performance and expandability of the Mac Pro enables it to last longer, doesn’t that make it a good value? What I mean is, if a business were to buy Mac Pros for 1.5x to 2x as much as they would spend on midrange desktops from Dell or wherever, would the Mac Pros last 1.5x to 2x longer? Also, couldn’t using computers with a longer life-cycle reduce strain on IT departments because they wouldn’t have to swap employees’ computer as often?

    Ok, I guess that was more than one question… But seriously, I’m not trying to disprove your argument, I’m genuinely curious about what you think.

  85. toffee
    August 10, 2007 at 4:40 am

    Lets see now …… with the worst possible (current generation) card from ATI, who is losing on nearly every benchmark to nvidia, the new iMac is not intended for gaming, and with it’s glossy screen it’s not intended for pro image editing either, where color accuracy is critical.

    The new iMacs are really intended for you, iSucker.

  86. {BDB} +Elysian+
    August 10, 2007 at 8:55 am

    From what I understand people want a Mac tower that utilizes only 1 CPU (Dual/Quad), can handle no more than 4 gigs of RAM, offers easy access to the video card for replacement/upgrading/additional card installment, and offers at least one additional space for a secondary hard drive (and hopefully soon a solid state drive.) A setup that is similar to the typical desktop.

    IMO all the iMac needs is an upgradable video card so I can try and keep up with constantly and quickly advancing graphics cards for at least two generations. This way I can have a machine that creams my current machine in every way, takes a fraction of the space, noise, eliminates a lot of wiring, and I can still utilize my current LCD. And as a bonus I always have Linux (work/personal), Windows (games), and Mac OS (everything else) at my disposal at all times from one powerful, compact, clean, and sharp looking machine.

  87. Robert Ross
    August 11, 2007 at 8:27 am

    A lot of folks keep mentioning the “we won’t make junk” comment from Jobs as a defence for the absence of a xMac.

    With all due respect, that is silly. His comment referred to $400-$900 solutions made with mediocre parts and mundate design elements.

    Let’s move on.

    Personally, I think this is an easy solution and has more to do with configuration than anything else.

    A top of the line iMac is about $3,400… MORE than most Mac Pro configurations as well it should be…it comes with a 24″ monitor.

    A top of the line Dell XPS or Alienware will easily hit the $3,500 mark, so let’s stop talking about price as a barrier to Apple making this xMac. They can make plenty of money with it

    Do I really need a quad-core…no…but I can live with the surcharge it brings if the rest of the system can be configured the way I like.

    Video Cards — The cards offered for the Pro are pathetic…let’s call it the way it is 1-2 generations old. It is inexcusable for the Nvidia 8800 not to be offered on the Pro…that, of course, would raise the price not lower it.

    TV/PVR Cards — Another consumer must. If you have a 24″ – 30″ monitor on your desk and you don’t spend the extra $99 to make it a PVR, you are a dork, IMHO🙂

    There are cards out there that supposedly will work in the pro, but not as an elegant integrated solution with iLife. Windows Media Center snuggles up to these cards and if MSFT can do it….

    I have to say, I was pretty surprised that the iMac doesn’t support TV except through a 3rd party USB solution. I suppose one could argue that Apple hopes people buy all their TV content via iTunes but we just ain’t there yet.

    RAID — As I understand it, even before the addition of the expensive $999 card, Pros supported RAID just fine. Apple doesn’t have magic pixie dust and their harddrives will fail just like anyone elses. RAID 0 has saved my bacon more than once and if you argue that TimeMachine is the same thing, then you just don’t get RAID. Dell has this option and simply call it DataSafe.

    Net Net:

    xMac should retail between $1,800 – $3,500 w/o monitor, support current generation video cards, RAID, and TV/PVR cards.

  88. August 12, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Please give me my Mac!!!! Something built around the smaller BTX or the MicroATX formfactor, a PCIe 16x slot for graphics, maybe an expansion slot or two, a Core 2 Duo with maybe a Xeon as an option, 3-4 memory slots (DDR2/3, STANDARD DIMMS PLEASE!), 2-3 hard drive bays and an optical drive. $1200-1500 with a GeForce 8000 series graphics card and a 320GB hdd, and i could con my department into buying these for everybody (50-60 machines).

    On the enterprise side give me a 3U Xserve with 6 hard drive bays and RAID 5 standard instead of being a $1000 option and i’ll buy at least 3 for my department alone.

    I wish Apple would listen. iMacs work for a limited audience. Mac Pros work for a limited audience. The Mini works as a toy or a 2nd (or 3rd, or 4th, etc) machine. This article hits it spot on, we need a Mac for everybody else.

  89. George
    August 12, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    Totally agree! And as an aside, remember when there was a sub-$2000 PowerMac? In fact, at one point wasn’t the lowest model down to even $1500-$1600?

    I think a big step would just be a Mac mini with a pro graphics card. It doesn’t even have to be upgradable… just let me buy the top end so it will last a while.

    The Mac mini seems a little too low end for its market. I hope Apple isn’t seeing low sales of the line and thus considering dropping it. If they introduced a high-end Mac mini I think it could really fill this gap well!

  90. August 17, 2007 at 7:25 pm


    I myself am considering a Mac.

    I’m not sure whether I should get an iMac or the MacBook. Asking around at other forums, they suggest that I get the MacBook since one of my priorities is portability.

    My other priorities include having a good graphics card since I will use a Mac mainly for photo and video editing. Question is, whether the extra bucks for a MacBook Pro is worth it.

    I will continue considering the MacBook or MacBook Pro whilst doing my research.

    Rezdwan Hamid

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