Mac mini with iPod port is the hybrid nobody needed

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The 2005 Mac mini is fine without an iPod port.
The Mac mini could have had a dedicated data/charging port for the iPod.
Photo: Apple

Apple reportedly explored adding an iPod port to the Mac mini. Images of a prototype unit surfaced online over the weekend, showing a product Apple decided not to release.

The pictures were posted on Twitter by @DongleBookPro, who regularly shares pictures of Apple prototypes.  This unit is an “EVT Mac Mini, with iPod dock,” according to Dongle. “Totally scraped [sic] project that never saw the light of day.“

The prototype apparently never got beyond its engineering validation test, a fairly early stage in the design process. If this Mac mini really was in the EVT stage, it was a long way away from being released.

Although Dongle doesn’t say anything about when this prototype originated, both the Mac mini and iPod nano were introduced in 2005. This hybrid device likely dates from around then.

Possible reasons why this Mac mini with iPod port was scrapped

This prototype Mac mini came with a 30-pin connector, used on iPod and early iPhone models. However, it’s off-center in the slot, and the slot itself is designed to tightly fit around an iPod nano.

If the desktop computer had been released, it quickly would have become obsolete as Apple introduced iPods with different form factors. The original iPhone, which launched in 2007, wouldn’t have been compatible with this design, either. Either that or Apple would have been forced to design future music players and its first smartphone around the slot in the Mac mini.