As I understand it, the point of Sander's editorial is that the mac mini will do very well if Apple can pull off the same feat that it has with the ipod: use clever marketing to raise the mini to "must have" status, even among people who wouldn't even necessarily *want* such a product if wants were based solely on function rather than form. He seems to indicate that the future marketing-/hype- driven success of the mini is already apparent, since his journalist friends, who apparently were mature enough to weather the ipod fad, are jonesing for a mini.
I'm a little iffy on two main points that Sander makes. The first one, that the ipod's success is due in large part to marketing and/or hype, has already been discussed in the topic "This editorial is very trollish". I can see how someone who admittedly "has no use" for an ipod might think that the reason many people buy them is due to hype. However, Apple didn't exactly create the market for the portable music player. Sony successfully created the market 25 years ago with the Walkman, which has sold over 300 million units since then. There will always be a market for music, and thus a market for music players. Anyone who's tried to replicate the ipod's functionality with other mp3 players knows that the "hype" is well deserved. It's also no accident that Apple is going to sell its billionth song in iTunes in the next 18 months. The ipod is the new Walkman, and the reason is that Apple was able to introduce a superlative, comprehensive solution to portable, downloadable digital music, and they did it first. They did such a great job that there will be next to impossible for Microsoft or anyone else to dethrone them, even after the coolness factor subsides.
The second point seems even more specious:
"Apparently something that was not cool, hip and fashionable before - a personal computer - has suddenly become just that and they had every intention to buy one to be able to identify themselves with the cool, hip and fashionable image Apple has been touting for the iPod and now the Mac mini."
Sander still "has no use" for the mini, but the marketing hype ("targeted at exactly the same audience that bought an iPod") that failed on other savvy journalists is working this time around for the mini? Sorry, but I don't agree with that little leap.
While the mini is certainly an engineering and design marvel, the true selling points are 1) the price and 2) that OS X works the way Windows ought to. Since the mini is able to "check email, surf the web or burn your iPod songs to DVD or CD", plus do word processing, internet chat, and pretty much everything else your average Windows user does, and all without crashing, becoming infested with spyware, or commandeered as a spam relay station, I'd say it's targeted at everyone who uses a personal computer and is fed up with Windows.
I also don't see how the other journalists succumbed to the hype of something that hasn't been marketed or even distributed in large quantities yet. Even if the "ipod as fashion accessory" mentality helps sell ipods to teenagers, how could the same be true for something that sits at home on a desk?
There is a hint of what may have actually happened. It turns out Sander almost has a use for the mini ("Granted, it would fit right in with my HD capable home theatre setup"). If we assume that most people won't require the home theater I/O capability, this admission seems contradictory to the idea that the mini will sell purely on hype/coolness - it could actually be useful to someone. Maybe they saw the mini for what it actually is - a competitively priced opportunity to do away with the massive headaches caused by dealing with Windows?