Return of the Cube

Apple’s current computer lineup is probably the best they’ve ever had. All the computers feature at least a dual core processor and 512MB of RAM. And they’re neatly slotted into the budget (Mac mini and lowest spec iMac), home (iMac and MacBook) and professional (top end iMac, Mac Pro and MacBook Pro) categories, with a very simplified product line.

However, what Apple seem to be missing is a head-less computer to fill the home and low-end professional. They have the Mac mini, but it’s not upgradeable, and because of it’s laptop components, it’s limited in RAM and disk space. The high end iMacs do fill this void somewhat, but the high end customers will almost certainly have large and expensive monitors already1 and again the only “easily” upgradeable component is the RAM.

This leaves the Mac Pro as the only choice in the desktop segment for the less demanding professional that wants upgradability. While it is priced competitively for it’s specification at £1699, how many people really need quad Xeon processors, eight FB-DIMM slots, 750W PSU and the 5000X professional chipset – which all ramp up the price. What is needed is remarkably similar to the old Power Mac G4 Cube.

The G4 Cube was ahead of it’s time. The technology back then just wasn’t there to produce a small and fan-less computer without some major problems, such as lack of upgradability and over heating. But now we have mobile chips that are just as fast as their desktop counterparts2 and that run much cooler, there is no excuse. We also know that it is possible, the iMac and Mac mini are great examples that Apple already have.

So why have we yet to see the real successor to the G4 Cube? A recent Apple patent filing may suggest they have something in the works, or they’re just tidying up loose ends. The extra space over a Mac mini would give the ability to have full size hard drives, higher end graphics cards and much easier upgrades. It’s the killer product thats just waiting to entice Windows users over to the world of the Macintosh.

My inklings tell me that Apple may decide to introduce the first “new” product since the Mac mini at the expo in Paris in a week, as they’ve quietly released the iMac and Mac mini upgrades before the expo, which means maybe an even bigger announcement is in store. Maybe a new iPod, probably the iTunes Movie Store, but possibly the Mac Cube3 I’m having flashbacks of One More Thing.

You heard it here first.

  1. Not to mention that once your iMac becomes obsolete, so will the monitor in it. Somehow, I find it hard to imagine that a 24-inch fully HD capable monitor would be obsolete in three years.
  2. Intel’s mobile Core Duo and Core 2 Duo processors just have amazing amount of power per watts ratio.
  3. Or Mac mini Pro or Mac Pro mini or Mac Pro Cube or Mac mini Cube… But I’ll stick with Mac Cube as it sounds cool.
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