Goodnight, Mac Mini — Apple Stops Mac Mini Shipments to Retailers

In what is sure to be devastating news to those who who’ve been holding off on a new Mac purchase for the long-awaited Mini update, Gizmodo is reporting that Apple has ceased shipping new units to retailers. Two major European retailers are cited as the source for the news, both of which claim they’ve also been told not to expect any future shipments, either, dousing hopes that this might signal the arrival of a refreshed version.

We mentioned in an earlier post that the Mini hasn’t seen an update since November of 2007, and it shows its age in hardware specs. Slower processor, slower wireless networking, and dismal integrated Intel 945GM graphics all stand as signs of an old work-horse put out to pasture. Or was it more of a pony?

Sales of the Mini exceeded expectations early on, but have tapered off more recently, to the point where the bare bones computer is the weakest link in Apple’s chain of Mac offerings. When introduced at Macworld 2005, it was positioned as a key weapon in the battle to convert Windows users, since it was affordable and could easily be swapped into an existing PC set up in place of a Windows-based tower.

Many users have found a place for the Mini as an effective home theatre PC, since it offers similar functionality to the Apple TV while providing the expanded feature set of a computer, with a nearly identical physical footprint. The potential for the device to cannibalize Apple TV sales may have figured in the rumored decision to axe it.

Gizmodo’s Jesus Diaz suggests the product line’s demise could be announced as early as the Q4 Earnings conference call happening today at 2:00 PT/5:00 ET, so if you’re interested in the fate the once mighty box, tune in here for the webcast.

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