The Worldwide Developers Conference has often been a venue for new product announcements, and it's abundantly clear that this year's event will be all about the next-generation iPhone, which has been talked about for so long and in such detail that one sometimes forgets that it hasnt been announced yet. But Steve Jobs has also used the “oh, and one more thing” trope during his keynotes, which usually give him an opportunity to drop some surprise on the audience. AppleInsider had a report out yesterday that indicated the Mac mini is in short supply, suggesting that a refresh of the small-form-factor desktop might be in the offing.
The Mac mini last got an update in October of last year, which brings it close to the end of its average 249-day product cycle. The last refresh brought faster Intel Core 2 Duo processors as well as a server model without optical drives that opened up both drive bays for dual 500GB hard disks. That processor upgrade followed a similar upgrade of the low-end MacBook, and – given that the Mac mini shares so many components with the MacBook – it makes sense that this refresh may bring the 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU from the latest MacBook refresh to the Mac mini.
Another possible upgrade involves the video out on the Mac mini, which for the last few product cycles has included a DVI port and a Mini DisplayPort. Leaks from Apple's verification test labs back in March indicated the company would replace the legacy DVI connector with an HDMI port. At present, only the “hobby” Apple TV device supports HDMI, and hints have been growing that Apple will be implementing the high-end digital video-out standard on more of its line. Given that one of the uses people put Mac minis to is as a home media server, it'd make sense for the Mac mini to be the first to see an HDMI upgrade.
AppleInsider said that four separate sources reported supply constraints on bulk orders for Mac minis. Individual order backlogs are more common ahead of new school years as Apple redirects stock for big university purchases, but holdups in volume orders usually means apple is clearing stock for a new model. According to one of AppleInsider's sources, “Every time this has happened in years past, it means that the item we ordered would be revised.”