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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Apple's New Mac mini and iPod Shuffle Create "Switchers"

Another MacWorld has come and gone and in it's wake, several new products from Apple as well as a quickly rising stock price. Steve Job's two biggest product announcements were the Mac mini and the iPod shuffle.

Apple's new Mac mini is poised to take the growing switcher market by storm. “What is a switcher?” you ask from underneath your rock. A switcher is a a Windows PC user who is fed up with viruses, spyware and system crashes and decides to give a Mac a try. The Mac mini is a competitively priced, fit in your hands, G4 based Macintosh computer. The lower end Mini is a $499 1.25Ghz G4 with a 40GB hard drive. The higher end system is $599 for a 1.42Ghz G4 with an 80GB hard drive. Both models come with a Slot-loading Combo Drive (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) and are loaded with software including iLife ‘05 (includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and GarageBand), AppleWorks, Quicken 2005 for Mac, Nanosaur 2, Marble Blast Gold and Apple Hardware Test. The ideal buyer for the Mac Mini is a user who wants to upgrade to a newer system but already has a keyboard, mouse, and monitor.

Switchers often come to Macs by way of the market-dominating iPod, so it only made sense for Apple to introduce an iPod to compete with the only market that the existing iPod couldn't reach: cheap, flash-media based digital music players. The iPod shuffle comes in two flavors, a $99/512MB model and a $149/1GB model. This gadget is essentially a USB flash drive that plugs directly into your computer and can sync with your music via iTunes through several customizable options. It can also be used as a normal flash drive for a quick and easy way to transfer files.

Steve Jobs also demonstrated the latest Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, coming the first half of this year. With many exciting features and improvements, it looks to be a great release. Apple has yet to announce a specific release date. Visit Apple's site to see the new products and the Tiger Demo.

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