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Apple’s “Brick” Concept – Where did the Computer Go?


There has been a lot of talk lately that Apple will be releasing something code-named “the Brick”.

There have been many rumours and suggestions as to what “the Brick” may be. 9 to 5 Mac is reporting that, according to their sources, the “brick” refers to a new manufacturing process that would involve using lasers and jet cutting instead of the traditional method of pressing to construct new Apple MacBooks from bricks of solid aluminium. If true, this process would truly revolutionise the manufacturing process of consumer electronics. It would, yet again, put Apple several years ahead of the competition, and would ensure Apple gained control over even more of the manufacturing process.

However, let’s pretend for a minute that we haven’t heard that rumour. Let’s think of “the Brick” as an actual product, rather than a manufacturing technique. What could it be?

No more Power Brick?

Initially, when I heard the term, my mind thought power bricks – the bulky blocks that ensure your laptop (or Mac Mini) gets charged when you plug it into the wall. If Apple could innovate a way that would mean we didn’t need a power brick for our laptops that would be truly astonishing. It would put Apple’s laptops a major step out in front of all competition. However, as much as this would be groundbreakingly cool, I simply don’t believe it is possible yet. Sure, power bricks are getting smaller and smaller, and Apple’s are looking better and better (See iPhone 3G), but to eliminate the power brick entirely is, as far as I know, not currently feasible.

New Mac Mini?

So, what else could “the Brick” be? Perhaps the Mac Mini. The Mini hasn’t been updated for a very long time. It has almost been forgotten about. This means either a) it’s going to be eliminated from the product line, or b) it’s going to have a massive overhaul very soon. Personally, I think it is much more likely to be b). With the current state of the global economy, and the increased growth Apple has seen in the higher end of the computer market, their low end, affordable Mac is overdue a massive sales increase.

On the one hand, Apple could attempt to make the Mini even thinner, even sexier, and perhaps re-brand it to Mac Nano. This would be great, but it could well confuse consumers with the similarly sized, and similarly priced AppleTV. Instead, I believe Apple will need to differentiate the Mini in another way other than to make it smaller…

No more Computer?

Let’s take a look at Neil Curtis’s idea for what could happen to the Mac Mini. He proposes that we dispose of “the Brick” entirely. Instead, we would have our entire computer inside the keyboard that sits on our desk. This would look simply breathtaking if you imagine that all that would be sitting on your desk would be a strikingly thin Apple Cinema Display (they’re also long overdue a design refresh), a keyboard, and a mouse.

It is arguable that this concept would be possible, but I reckon, with Apple’s knowledge, the Macbook Air’s internals could be re distributed and altered to fit within the constraints of a keyboard shaped computer. Let’s not forget that there would be no need for a battery, a trackpad, or even speakers, already saving a large amount of space. Neil even suggests that an optical drive could be crammed into this design, just like on the MacBook.

View the video above to see Neil explain his ideas in full.

It will be interesting to see what Apple releases in the next few weeks. So far, the rumour is that October 14th will be the day of announcements.

We can’t wait!

Written by
James is CEO and one of the co-founders of GoSquared. He also likes to talk about design.

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