Apple pins enterprise hopes on 'headless' Mac

In what may be Apple's best shot since the first iMac at getting a foothold in the enterprise desktop market, a much sought after 'headless' Mac mini has been unveiled by CEO Steve Jobs at this year's Macworld conference in San Francisco.

At 5cm high and 1.3 kilograms, the Mac mini is a full client PC that will be available worldwide from January 22.

"I wish I had a nickel for every time someone asked me why doesn't Apple offer a stripped-down Mac that is more affordable," Jobs said. "So today we're introducing it. It's a new member of the Mac family, it's very, very tiny, it's quiet, and it's got a bunch of cool things."

Jobs described the Mac mini as "BYODKM", or Bring Your Own Display Keyboard and Mouse, which may appeal to enterprises with existing investments in monitors and peripherals.

Mac mini

"We supply the computer, you supply the rest," Jobs said. "The great thing about Mac mini is that you can hook it up to any industry standard display, keyboard, and mouse. A lot of people already have a display and a USB keyboard and mouse."

Jobs declared the Mac mini is the most affordable Mac ever and the cheapest computer Apple has ever offered.

The entry model will sell for $799 with a 1.25GHz G4 processor, 256MB of PC2700 DDR SDRAM, a 40GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW optical drive and a Radeon 9200 graphics processor. A 1.42GHz processor and 80GB hard drive model will cost $949. Both units ship with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther.

Apple Australia's managing director, Tony King, said like many consumers, a lot of corporate and government organizations have been saying they want a cheaper Mac.

"The next step is to get it in the hands of IT architects of schools, universities, and government departments, [and] we will get it into the hands of our key customers and people we have been talking to," King said. "I think it will take a lot of attention because of its form-factor, price, and flexibility."

King said "the proof is in the pudding" and as the Mac Mini is the lowest-priced Apple computer, it presents a good opportunity for the enterprise market. "It's also a good opportunity for enterprises wanting to use open source software on the desktop," he said.

During his keynote, Jobs also spoke of the fifth major release of Apple's operating system, Mac OS X Tiger.

"We are on schedule to ship it [in] the first half of this year," he said. "It's got 200 new features in it. It's the number one Unix in the world, any process can address 64 bits of memory, and we're even better with Windows clients and servers."

Among the new features to be included with Mac OS X Tiger is Apple's desktop search application, Spotlight.

"Spotlight is our search technology that is built right into the core of Mac OS X Tiger," Jobs said.

"It allows you to find anything on your system - documents, images, appointments in calendars, things in PDF files, bookmarks, email, contacts, you name it."

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