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Apple drops Intel Mac Mini's built-in iPod dock

Eleventh-hour decision, sources claim

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Upcoming Intel-based Mac Minis will not sport an integrated iPod dock, a variety of sources said to be familiar with Apple's plans have claimed. Such a move was predicted late last year, with the precedent of discoveries made in March 2005 that the computer had the internal connections necessary for a built-in dock.

So might the Intel-based Mac Mini, but an AppleInsider report citing information received from "multiple contacts" said Apple has decided not to add the feature this time round.

That was not always the case, the sources allege - the top-end Mac Mini was originally to have featured a dock, part of Apple's plan to emphasise the diminutive computer's home entertainment hub facilities. But the dock was dropped at the eleventh hour.

Why? The sources don't say, but it's tempting to view anticipated wireless-related announcements, possibly coming as early as next week, as one reason for the last-minute change of mind. Apple may want to associate the Mac Mini with a broader range of media facilities rather than imply - as it would if it incorporated the dock - that the computer is merely a glorified iPod cradle with a hard drive.

Then there's the fact that Apple does rather nicely by selling pricey iPod docks, of course.

Claims the Mini design originally included a dock were made last March after electronics specialist Leo Bodnar took his Mini to bits and spotted unused bus connections on the riser card that connects the optical drive to the motherboard. The card appeared to contain a Firewire link that wasn't needed by the ATA-100 optical drive and didn't connect to anything else. With the riser card reaching up to the top of the Mini's casing, Bodnar speculated that the Mac was originally conceived as sporting an integrated dock.

The following November, Apple-watching website ThinkSecret said its sources claimed an Intel-based Mac Mini, codenamed 'Kaleidoscope', will sport a built-in dock along PVR functionality. However, AppleInsider this week said it had been unable to confirm the inclusion of PVR software. ®

Mac Mini with dock - artist's impression

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