New Mac mini Runs OS X Server for $999

Calling it a “new, mightier mini,” Apple (s aapl0 updated its smallest desktop with special attention to the optical drive. No, Blu-ray wasn’t added, rather Apple now offers a model with no optical drive at all.

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However, contrary to rumors and wish-fulfillment on my part, Apple did not lower the price of the entry-level mini to $499.

On the low end, the $599 Mac mini has a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, up from 2.0GHz, and 2GB of RAM, up from a measly 1GB, and a 160GB hard drive, up from 120GB. You still get five USB ports and one FireWire, as well as NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics and a SuperDrive. The $799 model now has a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive. So, same price, a little faster, more memory, a bit more storage on the low-end. It’s not much of an update to talk about, if not for the Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server.

For $999, you lose the optical drive, but do get two 500GB hard drives (5400 RPM) on a Mac mini running OS X Server. The other specs match the $799 model. Essentially, for another $200 you are getting an additional 500GB of storage and OS X Server (upgrading the $799 model to one 500GB drive balances out against buying an external SuperDrive for the $999 model). But why?

Apple advertises this curious machine as a “simple” server “perfect for any small business or group,” but how many of those types of customers are going to drop a thousand dollars on a server? It seems like Apple missed an opportunity here, no doubt on purpose, to offer a media and backup server, an iServer for the rest of us. Of course, that would have been competing with the beleaguered “hobby” that is the Apple TV, so instead Apple has extended its overpricing of the Mac mini into the sever market.

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