In the past month, I upgraded my Plex server from the 2017 version of the Nvidia Shield to an 8th generation Intel NUC, and I couldn’t be happier. As I was setting it up, I couldn’t help but wonder: why hasn’t Apple made a product like this? Would it be useful in the enterprise? Could it be called the Mac Mini Air?
About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers has been managing an enterprise IT network since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, 100s of Macs, and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.
If you look at Apple’s desktop lineup, it’s heavy into the “Pro” mindset right now. There is the Mac Pro and iMac Pro. On the “consumer end,” we have iMac and Mac Mini. Our friends at MacStadium have undoubtedly made good use of the various headless desktop models that Apple has offered over the years. Who would benefit from a Mac Mini Air? I can think of a lot of organizations besides MacStadium. School libraries, call centers, and industrial environments could all benefit from a smaller Mac desktop. In fact, I was recently in a jewelry store and their mobile PoS was iPad driven, but the desktop version was an Intel NUC.
Is it as powerful as one of the current Mac Minis? Most likely not, but sometimes it’s not about the power, but the form factor combined with power and efficiency. A lot of users still miss the Macbook despite it not being the most powerful laptop. A Mac Mini Air would fill this niche as well. For folks wanting to use a Mac to power their media center, be an always-on Mac for backups for iCloud Photos, file management, etc.
While Intel provides a lot of flexibility for building, purchasing, and customizing the Intel NUC, I don’t think Apple needs to provide as much customization. I think they could offer this product “as is” compared to its other products. It could have a low-end processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD, and sell it for $599. It would be the most affordable way to get into a Mac on the desktop side, and it should include at least 1 USB-A, 1 USB-C, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi.
One of the things I’d love to see Apple do in 2020 is offer more Mac hardware options. They’ve ditched the MacBook, but I think a Mac Mini Air would provide an excellent entry-level opportunity for folks wanting to switch from lower-cost enterprise PCs.
What do you think? Would your company be interested in a Mac Mini Air?
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