If you’ve been paying attention to the rumours surrounding Apple’s release schedule for Macs this year, you’re probably confused.

That’s fine. I am, too.

No one knows what’s going on – apart from Tim Cook and friends.

No matter how trusted the leaker, or how impressive the analyst’s record is, we won’t know what Apple is going to do this year with the Mac until they tell us.

Despite this irrefutable fact, there are some interesting ideas floating around – one of which forced me to completely abandon the idea I had for today’s blog (don’t worry, the original idea was rubbish).

But I think as much as Apple clearly has some awesome stuff up its sleeve, it could be heading towards a rather troubling problem.

The Mac mini ‘studio’ (yes please, Tim)

Over the last few days, we’ve started to hear increasing murmurings about a ‘Studio’ version of the Mac mini.

I absolutely love this. It is right up my street and, I think, perfectly answers the question about where Apple’s brilliant little headless desktop computer heads next.

We’ve heard endless rumours about a ‘Mac mini Pro’ (capitalisation fanatics – get involved, please), and the admittedly juicy idea of placing the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips in that little square box.

But I’ve remained unconvinced that Apple would do that with the existing Mac mini – even if they decide to give it a makeover, externally. I’d be far less surprised if they simply chucked an M2 chip in it and skipped the Pro/Max generation entirely.

Now, I’m not so sure, because by adding a new version of the Mac mini with a brand-new designation to the existing line-up, Apple would unlock an exciting new category – and it needs the power to justify it.

The M1 Mac mini is a brilliant computer. I built this business on it and used it to produce over 80 videos for my YouTube channel. Despite this, it still gets knocked for not being ‘pro’ enough, and for its relatively meagre I/O. As much as I disagree with the sentiment, I do kinda understand where some folk are coming from.

The idea of being able to buy a version of the Mac mini which fixes those misconceptions and genuine issues by offering more powerful chip configurations and more ports is very exciting indeed. Calling it the ‘Studio’ version adds that intangible cool factor, and aims it squarely at the massive – and constantly growing – creator market.

There’s just one thing missing, isn’t there?

The consumer-grade display (yes please, Tim)

I have no interest in remortgaging my house to pay for the Pro Display XDR (and then selling my car to fund the stand). Although it’s a considerately priced reference monitor, it is way out of my league both in terms of price and performance. I don’t need it.

But I do need an Apple-grade monitor of some description.

There’s a simple reason for this. If you’ve ever used an iMac (or, indeed, any Mac screen within the last few years), you’ll be desperately disappointed whenever you switch to something else.

This happened when I first began using my 34” ultra-wide monitor. As lovely as that huge, expansive screen is, it’s a country mile away from any Apple display when it comes to resolution, sharpness, colour, and brightness.

I know you can buy displays that come close, but they cost a small fortune. And, let’s be honest – they usually look pretty horrible, too.

It has been a long time since Apple offered a consumer-grade display, but I think it’s time for them to revisit that product category – particularly if rumours of the Mac mini Studio are true.

There are two reasons for this:

  • consumers deserve the option of a great Apple display; and
  • most of the people who sit within the creator market I mentioned earlier don’t have the budget for the Pro Display XDR.

The pricing for this new monitor needs to be bang-on. Somewhere between $1,000-$1,500 is likely, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a smaller version is made available to break that sub-$1,000 bracket and give consumers something to aim for.

Just imagine a powerful Mac mini Studio pared with an attainable Apple display.

You’ve got my attention, Tim. Just please, please include the stand in the price.

The problem

You might think that Apple’s new consumer-grade/creator-friendly display is a perfect fit for their new ‘Studio’ moniker, but apparently not.

You see, Apple is reportedly working on a 7K display that’s likely to be the successor of the Pro Display XDR – and analysts predict that it’s going to be given that ‘Studio’ label.

Eh?

I get it – Apple needs to create the next, greatest version of its top-end monitor, but if it really is going to be called the ‘Studio’, that places a completely different emphasis on that line of products. It suggests that they’re made for literal studios with big budgets and creators who are sailing into the many millions of subscribers and followers. It isn’t the ‘everyman’ display. And it might mean that the Mac mini Studio isn’t the perfectly-pitched creation workhorse I illustrated at the start of this article.

That’s a huge miss, in my opinion.

It’s important to reiterate once again that none of us knows what Apple is up to. Whatever they do will probably make sense, but I’m concerned that the whole ‘Studio’ thing is leading people like myself down the wrong road when it comes to our hopes for Apple’s support of the creator economy.

What do you think? Have I got the wrong end of the stick here? What am I missing?

Get involved in the comments, and let’s try and work this out together before Tim takes to the virtual stage!