January 16, 2009, 4:08 AM — OK, everyone is still playing guessing games on the Mac mini intro that never happened, so here's an intriguing possibility: the minis are waiting on the availability of Nvidia's new Ion platform, and will make their debut around CeBit in early March. This scuttlebutt comes from Tom's Hardware, who supposedly has it from Nvidia partners who say that Apple got early shipments of Ion, which integrates an Intel Atom processor with Nvidia GPUs. Tom's posits that the new minis will be even smaller, thanks to the new chipset, and will sell for around the current price points of $500 and $700. (Nvidia is pushing Ion as a basis for $400 gadgets, but hey, Apple doesn't go around lowering prices on things, you know?)
This idea, however, is nicely demolished by AppleInsider, which points out all the ways that Ion fails to improve upon even the outdated Core 2 Duo that runs the current minis. Ion and Atom are designed not really for the desktop market, but for embedded systems where the main competition is ARM. So, if that's the case, and assuming that Tom's isn't completely misinformed, where are all those Ion chipsets going? Possibilities include an improved Apple TV and, of course, the possible iNetBookThing.