As the year comes to an end, it is time for the predictions for 2006. I am not a great fan of predictions in general, but I have some for the next year, as I will show in this and the next post.
My first prediction for Apple in 2006 has to do with the mac mini. Apple is a company that has always strived to create the best products for the home user. And now they are clearly starting to rip the fruits of this focus. But this also indicates that is time to go to a new level, and in my view this has everything to do with the Mac mini.
The Mac mini was launched at the beginning of this year as a cheap alternative to the more full-featured iMacs. However, I think that it will become during this year not only a smaller version of the full Macs, but also a major player in the Apple product line, with features that will make it a highly desirable home entertainment product.
First, Apple has finally in the mac mini the opportunity to be competitive, in terms of cost, as a multimedia digital hub. Also, it already has the front row technology that was launched early in the fall to the more expensive iMac G5. Now, It is easy to conclude that the mac mini integrated with front row is not so far away, and with such features it can become a clear winner as the digital hub of the future home.
Even more importantly, the mac mini has enough software and computational power to do much more than this: it can also advance over the game market, a market that Microsoft is trying so fiercely to conquer. With a new mac mini including a killer graphics board, Apple could relatively easily attract a large number of game producing companies. By doing this, Apple would be integrating into one product the chief technologies of home entertainment: video, music, and games.
If this will become true, it is difficult to guarantee. But given the high level of innovation coming from Apple, I have great hopes that they will be following a development model similar to this. I think that, combined with the recent success of other products, Apple can deliver in not so much time a mac mini that would be a killer product for 2006, as well as the iPod was for 2005.
* 2006: the year of Wine on Mac OS X?
* Apple iTunes a Problem for Microsoft