Will Apple’s Mac mini and iMac Pricing Mean More Hackintoshes?

by Chris Howard Mar 04, 2009

How many other people took a look at the price tag for the new Mac mini and thought "Hackintosh time!"?

Many folks, myself included, have been waiting patiently for the new Mac mini. For a lot of us, a Mac mini is about budgetary constraints, which in the present economic downturn, is even more of an issue. As it had not had an update for 18 months, even though affordable, it represented poor value. So we waited.

Yesterday Apple finally released the new Mac mini. Features wise it's pretty nice, especially the extra USB ports. Cost wise, there's a lot of disappointment in the US that Apple didn't drop it to $500 (before you argue that with me, visit a few Apple-related forums.)

It's even worse though for those outside of the US. Here in Australia the base Mac min went up AU$200, the top end one, AU$251. So in Australia, you can't get a new Mac of any description for under AU$1000.

The high cost of the Aussie Mac mini can be attributed mainly to the high dollar (currently trading a $1.57, i.e. US1$ will cost you AU$1.57).

Now of course, you can argue that the new Macs minis are better specced (which they undoubtedly are) and so should cost the same or more. But I'd call that a furphy. I suspect it's more of a case of Apple can't sell a US$499 computer since it implied those are junk.

Looking at the iMac, we find with the updates to that range, that the cheapest iMac available in Australia is now AU$1999, that's AU$300 more than last week. Another price hike because of the poor Aussie dollar?

Nope. The interesting - and rather annoying - thing about the iMac range is Apple hasn't actually increased the price of the iMacs. All its done is delete the base model and add some minor spec changes like extra USB, no FW400, and different graphics. So suddenly you are forced to spend AU$300 more if you want an iMac - without there having been any price hike. Apple has cut the bottom iMac from its range. (It's also added a new top end model). This is most likely to maintain a gap between the top Mac mini and bottom iMac, since a top end Mac mini, if you have to buy a keyboard, mouse and screen, will nearly cost more than the previous base iMac at AU$1699. All the same, it sucks that Apple cut that iMac.

So where's it leave the dollar-shy Apple geek or nerd? Seriously looking at hackintoshes, that's where. For AU$100 less than the upper level Mac mini, I can get a Dell with fairly comparable specs to the mini - and it includes the screen, keyboard and mouse. That's not to say OS X will run on it, but it's a starting point.

I should add that I am a student - and partially self employed - and my wife is a student and part time employed. So I do have a very tight budget. But again, listening to the internet, it seems like others do too.

I'm not saying that the Mac minis are way too pricey. I'd still seriously consider one. However, what I am saying is they are no longer cheap enough for me to consider them alone. At AU$849 for the base model (as it used to be), it wasn't worth the effort to consider or build a hackintosh. But that AU$200 makes it a much more real consideration. Of course I may yet find that a hackintosh is not financially viable either.

Also, looking at recent history, the conversion of the price from the US to the Australian has actually slightly improved with this new model - although it would be nice if Apple still matched the dollar as it did with the original Mac minis. That way the mini would now be a more appealing AU$940.  But we always get told there's other factors that make it dearer... like, I suppose they have to convert it for right-hand drive, things like that.

All that considered, that AU$200 is still the difference between not looking and looking at hackintoshes. And in the US, I gather from others' comments, that US$100 that many felt the mini should have been cut by, is also the difference between considering hackintoshes or not.

I'm not blaming Apple for the price hike of the Mac minis, the dollar is bad, but I still am skeptical about Apple's claims that it can't build and sell an excellent Mac mini for US$499.

Apple, we know you said US$499 computers are junk and you don't want to go back on that, but really, it  wouldn't hurt you to sell a US$499 computer, would it now?


  • Because a product is better spec’d it should undoubtedly cost more? That would be true if any time in the last few years Apple had lowered the price of their badly outdated desktops. As it is the “upgrades” they introduced yesterday were minimal, especially after 11 months (iMac), 14 months (Pro), 19 months (mini). In the same time frame all the Apple notebooks have been updated at least 3 times.

    If anything they should have lowered prices across the board to reflect how little improvement these machines represent when compared with the amount of change in the market around them.

    Unfortunately the country that triggered the global economic meltdown has seen its currency rise dramatically and the rest of us get to pay the price.

    Just as significant is the fact that I haven’t noticed any PCs going up in price this past year. That means the price gap between PC and Mac just got substantially wider for all non-USA customers. I believe that will definitely lead to a lot more hackintoshes.

    I am bitterly disappointed that the new iMac is still just a dual core machine and still requires an hour of service technician time just to swap the hard drive.

    So I’m going to spend the C$2100 I was going to give Apple for a quad core iMac and buy two computers instead. My wife, who insists her next computer come with a warranty, will get a new Mac mini (C$729) and the remaining C$1370 will buy a killer hackintosh that will rival the C$2899 Mac Pro.

    Bregalad had this to say on Mar 04, 2009 Posts: 14
  • I’m always considering a Hackintosh.  Even if I get the Mac mini, it would still be nice to have an expandable desktop, possibly a nice inexpensive netbook running OS X.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Mar 04, 2009 Posts: 2220
  • Here’s a table I did while writing this piece. It’s interesting how throughout its life, the US base price for a Mac mini has stayed determinedly on US$599.

    mini_table.png width=520 height=198

    So it seems Apple are absolutely addicted to that price point and they just can’t let go.  Shame they don’t show the same commitment in other countries. And a shame, after four years they can’t drop it to US499. Every other base product in the catalogue has seen price variations, but not the mini because Apple is of the misguided opinion (or want us to believe) that, for a computer, US$499 means “junk”.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Mar 05, 2009 Posts: 1209
  • Let us take Aussie Dollar pricing back to reality.

    #1.) Australia adds 10% GST on top of the prices. USA does not add sales tax on the prices. If you order in the USA online you have a good chance of never paying sales tax (most cross state purchases do not get taxed - lucky bums!)

    So the formula to take off 10% GST is Aussie Price * .9 (we want 90% of the Aussie Price.)

    Then we put the result into a google search for the current real time currency conversions.  “X,XXX.XX AUD IN USD”

    Then we compare the answer to the prices on the USA apple store.

    Mac Mini 2.0GHz : 120GB is $ 1,049.00 Aussie Dollars

    1049 * .9 = 944.1

    944.1 Australian dollars = 606.20661 U.S. dollars

    USA Mac Mini 2.0GHz : 120GB is $ 599 US Dollars

    You are paying $7.20 USD more for a Mac Mini in Australia than buying the same unit in the USA.

    Lets take iMac as example.

    iMac 24-inch: 3.06GHz = $ 3,699.00 Aussie Dollars

    3699 * .9 = $3,329.1 with the taxes removed
    3329.1 AUD in USD
    $3,329.1 Australian dollars = $2,137.61 U.S. dollars
    USA Apple Store price = $2,199.00 U.S. dollars

    You are *SAVING* 61.39 US Dollars buying the iMac in Australia than in the USA, its cheaper here!

    Macbook Pro 17 - 2.66GHz with AppleCare Protection Plan
    Aussie Dollars = A$ 5,078.00
    5078 * .9 = $4,570.2 with the taxes removed
    4570 AUD in USD =
    4 570.2 Australian dollars = 2 934.52 U.S. dollars

    USA Apple Store Price = $3,148.00 U.S. Dollars

    You are *SAVING* $213.48 U.S. Dollars buying the 17 inch Macbook Pro with AppleCare in Australia than in the USA. It is cheaper here!

    AN had this to say on Mar 05, 2009 Posts: 2
  • Thanks, AN. That damn GST!

    Tho doesn’t change the other problems.
    1) it’s the non-US customers who cop the price hikes because of the economic situation. So we’re subsidizing the Yanks.
    2) apple, despite over the years finding ways to cut the price of most other products, seems incapable of cutting the mini down to US$499.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Mar 05, 2009 Posts: 1209
  • 1. I agree, I am completely miserable over it and have even though of hackintosh myself.

    2. I agree, but I bought the very first Mac Mini, my price was USA $499.00 as I bought it inside the USA at the time and brought it back with me on a plane to Australia. raspberry

    1 Part B) I’m angry, but more so that I can’t be angry at Apple like my first reaction was when I heard about the prices. I have to be angry at the Aussie Dollar value and the world economy play on the Aussie Dollar value… so I’m even angrier because I cannot be angry at what I was originally angry at! raspberry if that makes sense.

    I have been saving up for a new Mac so I have to decide what to do. I will probably get it this time but then not buy another one for a few years longer than I planned to after getting this next one. My mac is a original mini which I opened and modified to run at 1.5Ghz…. it does the job but its the graphic card pulling it down with Leopard. I switched it back to Tiger and it runs like a champ.

    AN had this to say on Mar 06, 2009 Posts: 2
  • We can be angry at Apple though, AN. You look at that table. No matter how good times have been, that US price stuck firmly on $599, and then when times are bad, who pays? Nope, not the US, but everyone else.

    Other products have fluctuated. Eg. iBook/MacBook base model (by release date).
    Oct-2004: US$999 iBook 12”
    July-2005: US$999
    May-2006: US$1099 MacBook 13”
    Nov-2006: US$1099
    May-2007: $US1099
    Nov-2007: US$1099
    Feb-2008: US$1099
    Oct-2008: US$999
    Jan-2009: US$999

    So there you have it, price fluctuation.

    But maybe we have we always got US$599 value in those Mac minis though? Ahhhh… I don’t think so, coz that argument would get screwed looking at those MacBook numbers, i.e. we must be getting less now with MacBooks at $999 than when they were $1099 - which of course Apple would vehemently deny.

    It’s definitely time for a US$499 Mac mini.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Mar 06, 2009 Posts: 1209
  • Apple’s Macintosh Operating System (Mac OS) is extremely user-friendly. On their recent notebook models—iBook, MacBook, Macbook Air and Macbook Pro—performing a reboot is universal on all machines.-Any Lab Test Now

    Ana had this to say on Sep 26, 2011 Posts: 76
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