07 January 2008

All I Want from MacWorld '08

With a week to go before all the new Mac goodies are announced the rumor mill is in full swing. Around this time every year I ask myself, "What would make me open my wallet and trade my money for a bit of aluminum and plastic Apple goodness?"

A lot of people seem to be answering that question with a small notebook computer with flash based storage for $1500-$1700. My good ol' 12" Powerbook is still cranking away and is small enough for my needs. Plus I don't think that $1500 is reasonable for that product. Sony makes their TZ series which is available with all flash storage (which is still really expensive per GB) in a really compact form factor that retails for nearly $3000.

All I want to be announced at MacWorld '08 is half a MacPro. That's right, all Apple has to do is take a MacPro and remove half of everything. Half the HD bays, half the PCI slots, half the processors, half the optical drives, half the memory, and especially half the price. Call it the "HalfMacPro."

Right now the cheapest MacPro (2.0 gHz) goes for $2200 (Now the base price is $2300 after the Jan 8, 2008 upgrade). The G5 started at $2000 and the entry level G4 was $1500. As a result of the base price creeping up Apple has opened up a huge hole between the Mac Mini and the MacPro. Start the HalfMacPro at $1300 and it will sell like hot cakes. This will be at the expense of some other models, but at that price it will be the similarly priced iMac, not the pricey MacPro that would see the hit. My guess is that the manufacturing costs for the HalfMacPro would be less than an iMac so Apple would realize greater profit. This computer would have a big appeal among prospective switchers who just can't bring themselves to go with an all-in-one iMac, but aren't willing to drop well over 2K to try out a Mac in a form factor they are familiar with.

When Apple introduced the Mini it was targeted at Windows switchers. Remember the BYOKM (Bring Your Own Keyboard and Mouse) ads? But it missed that mark because it was to much of a leap for Windows users to stomach in terms of the hardware form factor. My proposed HalfMacPro would be a more comfortable alternative for the person who still can't accept the Mini as a viable computer.

"HalfMacPro" Specifications:
1 Socketed processor for a desktop processor. No more laptop proc in a desktop! If Intel has something new, great, otherwise a Conroe or Allendale would be perfect.
1 Optical bay for a full sized Superdrive (Blu-Ray?!?!?!).
2 PCI slots, 1 is a wide one so gamers can drop in a super duper video card.
4 RAM slots, just use one of the daughter cards from the MacPro.
2 HD bays, It would be really cool if they were set up just like the MacPro.
1 Gigabit Ethernet port. Is anyone actually using the second one on the MacPro?
1 Firewire 800 and 1 Firewire 400 port, one front and one on the back.
As many USB ports as possible, including on the front!
All of the same audio I/O as on every other Mac with optical and analog capability.

That is all I want, really. Nothing else. It will be a 15 minute keynote this year. I may go postal if I have to witness another video iChat with Phil Schiller! I DON'T CARE IF IT LOOKS LIKE HE IS ON A TROPICAL BEACH!

UPDATE!: Apple announced new MacPros today (Jan 8, 2008). With the new set of impressive specs comes an even higher base price of $2300. Is Apple making room for a computer between the Mini and the MacPro?

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