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Apple Lures PC Users with Mac Mini

January 26th, 2005

Apple’s Mac Mini is making a splurge on the news outlets of the world. The buzz? Could the Mac Mini tempt PC users into trying out Apple’s little platform?

Analysts, and retailers, seem to think so. Until recently few users had switched platforms. In fact, Apple’s market share has been effectively stagnant for more than a decade. Sure, it hasn’t lost customers, but it hasn’t really gained any either. Until the iPod – which saw hundreds of thousands of new customers considering picking up a Mac, but dreading the cost.

The Mac Mini may be just what the doctor ordered. Powerful enough to appeal to base users, and cheap enough to not be considered a massive investment. After all, there are iPod models which are more expensive than the Mac Mini.

“I believe the Mac mini is actually going to have more of an impact on Apple´s market share position than their digital music efforts have so far,” said IDC analyst Roger Kay.

Charlie Wolf from Needham & Co. agrees: “The iPod´s only failure so far has been its inability to stimulate meaningful purchases of Macintoshes.”

Even if only 10 percent of Apple’s nearly 30 million iPod owners shell out for the Mac Mini, that would still be enough to spur a larger growth in market share than Apple has seen since the 80s.

Apple’s other “cheap” model, the iPod Shuffle will also be hitting store shelves this week, amid some controversy that Apple is diminishing supply to make it appear as though there is more hype around the launch than there is.

“Some of this is true demand, but I think some of it´s orchestrated, too, by Apple,” said Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD Group.

Either way, both the Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle are a drastic strategic shift for Apple – a company long thought to be the “BMW of Computers”.

“The Mac mini opens up lower price points for people who would like to try the Mac platform, and that´s long been one of my chief complaints about Apple—the high price,” IDC´s Kay said.

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