Thursday, 1 January 2009

Could the new Mac mini and Apple TV be the same product? [Mockup]

When the first Mac mini was launched, it came with Front Row, which was not a part of Mac OS X at the time. The last major revision of Front Row then came with Leopard, which brought it in line with the newly launched Apple TV. Since then, Apple TV Take Two has been released, with major functional enhancements that have not made their way back into Front Row. Perhaps the launch of the new Mac mini will see Apple finally updating Front Row - if not for all Macs, then at least for the version bundled with the new mini.

And by merging two underperforming, but strategically important product lines, (the mini and the Apple TV), perhaps they'll finally hit upon a formula with some traction. As previously predicted, all that would be required in order to achieve this is the ability to set the machine to automatically boot into the Apple TV environment at startup.

As usual, click on the image to see it in all its high-res goodness.

Correction: Thanks to Paul for pointing out (in a comment below) that the first Mac mini did not come with Front Row. I should have said the first Intel Mac Mini, which did come with Front Row, before the release of Leopard.


  1. Incorrect. The first Mac mini did not come with Front Row. Front Row was introduced in October 2005 on the iMac G5 with iSight. I had a G4 Mac mini at the time that I sold to buy an iMac. Mac mini only got Front Row in a subsequent revision.

  2. Hi Paul - thanks for the correction. You're right of course. I've amended the article accordingly.

  3. Interesting idea, but it won't sell without a built-in DVR capability. There has to be a better reason for the extra hard-drive space for the Apple TV, and for the increased price for a Mac Mini, than consolidation alone.

  4. "As previously predicted, all that would be required in order to achieve this is the ability to set the machine to automatically boot into the Apple TV environment at startup."

    What does this mean? "The machine" means a Mac Mini, which of course automatically boots into the Mac OS X at startup, unless it has Windows or Linux options via BootCamp. What is the "Apple TV environment"?

    I think I know what you are trying to say, and I think you may have a good point, but you should try to get the details correct first before I comment. If you can't get it right, why should Apple?

  5. "you should try to get the details correct first"

    Thanks for the comment. Let me try and clarify what I mean.

    Both the Apple TV and the Mac Mini run versions of OS X. The difference is that the Apple TV OS does not include the Aqua environment, so you can't have a regular GUI session, or run regular Mac GUI applications. In other words, Apple TV is based upon Darwin, but does not include all of the Mac frameworks on top of it. A Mac mini comes with a complete version of Mac OS X, but a limited equivalent to Apple TV, currently dubbed "Front Row".

    What I'm proposing is that the new product would ship with Mac OS X installed, and bundled with this OS would be a new "Front Row" framework that replicates and extends the current Apple TV functionality. In System Preferences, a new option would be included under "Startup Disk" allowing the user to select to boot directly into Apple TV mode (Front Row) on startup, rather than initiating an Aqua GUI session.

    This is not dissimilar to a Boot Camp style solution, except that rather than selecting which OS to boot, you're selecting which user environment to load after Darwin has loaded. Holding down the option key at startup (when you have a keyboard connected!) would allow you to change your startup setting.

  6. I think they will "abandon" the mini and turn it all into a new model of Apple TV. The hardware mediacenter market is rising and rising and rising. The reason it takes it´s time is that they of course want a world-wide moviedistribution in itunes. And they are far, far, far from that so far.

  7. OMG you were right, the new Mac Mini looks exactly like this!