The Mac mini is arguably the strangest product in Apple's Mac lineup. It's basically a bunch of notebook components crammed into a tiny case, and despite being a desktop it abandons things like front-facing USB ports and even a disc slot. It also happens to be the perfect fit for many Apple fans, including myself, and as of today it's been 505 days without a Mac mini refresh or upgrade.
In August of last year I ignored the cries of friends and co-workers that claimed a new Mac mini was imminent and purchased a new Late 2012 model. Now, several months later, I'm glad I did, but the question remains: Where in the name of Haswell is the next Mac mini?
It was supposed to arrive last summer, and then in the fall, and then by Christmas, and then again last month -- all according to various rumors and theoretical product schedules -- but we've not heard a peep. What does it mean, if anything?
It's important to note that this isn't the longest we've waited for a mini refresh. The gap between the Mid 2007 and Early 2009 models -- 574 days to be exact -- remains the longest wait, with the current 505-days-and-counting gap coming in second. When the Early 2009 mini launched it was a good deal more powerful than its predecessor, but otherwise the wait produced nothing remarkable, so a long wait doesn't necessarily mean big things.
However, the first mini body style lasted approximately four years, and the current unibody model is now approaching a similar age. It wouldn't be crazy to see a new mini form factor this year -- even mini-er, in theory -- but the current all-aluminum mini still looks the part of a modern Mac, and it's not exactly an eyesore.
But if a redesign is indeed in the works, the fact that the Mac Pro just got a facelift could be having an impact. The two certainly don't overlap in terms of the target consumer -- at least not much -- but in a year where all eyes are on Apple to reinvent at least a few of its products, saving a sexy mini redesign for 2014 wouldn't be a horrible strategy.
There's also the possibility that Apple has decided to put the mini on a similar refresh schedule as the Mac Pro, where a year and a half can go by without anyone even batting an eye. This doesn't seem likely though, as the notebook-like nature of the mini means it's any type of internal upgrade, aside from memory, is futile.
When the dust on 2014 finally settles, we'll likely have a nice Mac mini spec update to look back on, but after seeing how the Mac Pro evolved, it's fun to consider the possibilities. Who knows, we might have a desktop Mac Air before we know it. (Nah, we won't, but just think about it for a second.)