Apple seems to have taken a big jump into the lower-end consumer market with these releases, something they have always avoided with Jobs at the helm. For a while now, Macs have been comperably priced to PCs. However the low end of a the Mac line generally included more extras and better components than low end PCs, with the pricing reflecting this. I think the Mac mini is more of a gamble than folks may realise.
The “zen of Mac” is the excellent user experience. By putting out low-cost, lower functioning products like the Mac mini, they risk losing some of that initial joy. Lets be honest here, Mac OS X just does not run on 256MB of RAM; but that’s what you get for $500. I think people that buy the $500 Mac mini as spec’ed will be an unhappy lot2.
On the other hand, I think the iPod Shuffle could be a real winner if the iTunes integration is done properly (which it probably is). If you can choose what to send to the unit at a playlist level, I think it’s a bargain at $150 for 1GB. Hitting the $99 price point with the 512KB model is pretty awesome too.
I don’t do much word processing, but I’m hesitant about Pages. Opening Word docs is good, but it better be able to save to .doc format (with all the formatting, etc. intact) too before I’d use it. It’s a cross-platform world, I don’t want any of my data stuck on a single OS.
Additionally, I’m quite impressed that Apple can keep pushing out new products so frequently – it certainly helps keep the excitement around the brand going. I’m interested to see how this foray into the low-end space works out.