Whither the Mac mini?

Rumors of new iMacs and Mac minis before Christmas have been debunked by Apple in usually forceful fashion. Both are long in the tooth, and while the iMac is clearly not going anywhere, this move immediately prompted speculation that the mini would soon go the way of its spiritual ancestor, the Cube. One mini booster went so far as to pester Bob Mansfield, Apple's head of hardware engineering, and in fact got an answer: be patient.

There are any number of fanboyish demands for whatever the next mini would look like. Personally, I've been holding out on getting a next-generation DVD-esque player and would love to see Blu-Ray in a mini so I can stick it under my TV, but the chances of that happening seem pretty low. A more likely direction (though less interesting to consumers) is that, as AppleInsider reports, the minis might come with more customization options for the security, kiosk, and server markets in which the gadget as found a niche. For instance, the optical drive might be removed entirely in favor of more storage. Such a move would make an interesting test of just how much of a value add OS X is in such markets, as a comparable Linux box can be put together for much less money (though perhaps with not such a small footprint).

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