So, there’s going to be a Mini Mac

Or rather, a Mac mini. I’d have used Mini Mac myself, because then you can write it miniMac and it sort of fits into Apple’s usual scheme - iMac, eMac, iBook (Mac laptop), iLife, iWork (office software), iSight (visual chat equipment), and so on. It starts at “just” $499 (that’s just over £250), including the operating system, the usual net-surfing and email software, Apple’s old office package (AppleWorks, formerly Claris Works), personal finance software (Quicken 2005), photo and music software (iLife) and a couple of games. (It doesn’t seem to include Apple’s new iWork, a word processor and presentation package in one box.) It doesn’t include a keyboard, a mouse or (needless to say) a monitor, however, and of course if you want a decent monitor you’d probably have to pay more than the difference between a Mac mini and an eMac, which means it could be a bit of a false economy. (Some of Samsung’s Apple’s monitors cost a grand!) It does, however, increase portability, so if you want something you can carry round, it may be a better bet than an iBook, but of course you’d need to carry your keyboard round with you. Perhaps Apple should put out an integral keyboard and mousepad for people who want a mini for this reason (or even a terminal - like an iBook without a processor, which you can plug into your mini).

The wierd thing about Apple is how secretive the company is. I went into the Apple Store in Regent Street, London, this afternoon (about two hours before Steve Jobs gave his keynote speech in San Francisco) and asked the Apple employees at the door, “when’s the big announcement, then?”. They said “what big announcement?”. They told me that he was making a keynote speech, but they wouldn’t know if there was a big announcement until it was made. Jobs’ speech also wasn’t played in the store, or indeed, broadcast at all. Obviously Apple has a reason for being so secretive (to stop the competition stealing their ideas, of course - that doesn’t stop them stealing others’ ideas, mind you), but it’s just stupid that you ask Apple Store staff about the “big announcement”, and anyone who knows anything about Apple would know what this means, and they pretend not to know.

One thing that’s been announced (I’m not sure if it was in the speech, but it’s now on the Apple website) is the new Mac OS version 10.4, known as Tiger (the current is 10.3 or Panther). It was observed in the Mac press here that the big improvements are not as big as in previous versions; one of the “big” new features is apparently Spotlight, a device for searching your computer for things. There’s also vastly improved features for the visually impaired and a new version of the Safari web browser with integrated RSS support. Wow … although perhaps if it’s integrated into the web browser it will be more use than in a mail reader. I’ve not found an RSS reader I’ve found remotely useful.

By the way, why doesn’t Apple seem to have a UK web site? Apple’s website was jammed when I tried accessing it around 7 this evening. When I found Apple’s main site inaccessible, I tried, only to find that it belongs to an illustration agency in Lincolnshire. Surely they should have sorted this out when they opened the Apple Store?

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