Six years ago Apple introduced the Revision C 266 MHz iMac in five fruit flavors —strawberry, blueberry, grape, lime, and tangerine— with the apparent goal being to make the computer more accessible to disillusioned luddites through appealing colorization. Well, that and the cute–factor, but I was never much a fan of Bondi Blue anyway.
Five years later, long after retiring that much–cherished gumdrop form factor and riding the wave of success generated by the iPod, Apple introduced the iPod mini to moans and groans from the “too expensive, not enough storage, I expected smaller” crowd (myself included, alas), but otherwise wowing us with two unexpected features: the now–standard clickwheel™ interface and a sudden choice of handsome metallic pastels — pink, blue, green, gold, and silver. After so long with double–shot snow and crystal acrylics the notion of colored aluminium seemed totally foreign. What, we have to choose now?
Scroll forward another year and we’re met with the introduction of the Mac mini: a product that, for all intents and purposes, follows the ‘mini’ mantra perfectly. Physically smaller than its big brother iMac with fewer features, a lower price, an anodized aluminium body, and a white–plastic head, the form factor is undeniably iPod mini; it’s just shorter and fatter, like the batard to a baguette, or the cornet to its trumpet.
One thing is missing though: it’s the thing that made those old–school iMacs so endearing. The thing that makes the iPod mini so cute. The thing that screams “I wasn’t built for professionals, I was built for fun and I have the price tag to prove it”. It’s the color.
Personally, I was surprised that the Mac mini wasn’t released in five colors. It is today what the original iMac was — small, cheap, and simple. A call to potential switchers. Today’s iMac keeps the all–in–one spirit alive with integrated display and speakers, but unlike that most lithe and professional of desktops the Mac mini is where the budget computing is at. It’s what the rest of the rest of us buy when we’re just starting out; taking a chance on a new platform. It’s what I would’ve bought as my first Mac when I made the switch… but in its absence bought an eMac.
So c’mon Apple, make the mini mantra more about the color. There are people out here that’d love to see it, and even while silver remains the most popular coat on the iPod mini, we need a fun and funky Mac around the place. Make with the shades. Make with the love.