Apple wants its Mac mini developer transition kits back early


Mac mini with ARM chip
The time of the Mac mini Developer Transition Kit is rapidly drawing to a close.
Photo: Apple

Apple told developers on Wednesday that they are expected to soon return the Mac mini that they used to test macOS Big Sur running on Apple Silicon. This is less time than the one-year lease of the Developer Transition Kit was supposed to last.

The devs paid $500 to lease the specially modified desktops in 2020. They aren‘t getting that money back, but Apple will compensate them for returning the unit. Still, some developers are peeved.

Mac mini developer transition kits were leased

James Thompson is among the developers who got a developer transition kit, and he posted on Twitter a screenshot of Apple’s email to him.

When the hardware is returned, he and other developers will revive a gift-certificate to buy a new Mac. “In appreciation of your participation in the program and to help with your continued development of universal apps, you’ll receive a one-time use code for 200 USD to use toward the purchase of a Mac with M1,” reads Apple’s email to Thompson and others. The credit must be used by the end of May 2021.

The email says nothing about consequences for not quickly returning the test Mac mini.

There’ve been some complaints

Not every developer is thrilled by Apple’s offer of $200, which isn’t enough to buy a new M1 Mac mini.

However, others point out that Apple is being more generous than other companies. For example, when developers pay for pre-release access to game consoles, they also have to give the units back and don’t get any money for doing so.

Also, there was never any question that the developers were buying the Mac minis. This was a lease.

Still, some of the complaints center on the fact that the Mac mini developer transition kits never worked very well to begin with. Much of this can be blamed on them using an Apple A12Z Bionic processor from the 2020 iPad Pro, not the M1 chip that’s in the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac mini.

But the kits went out soon after Apple’s Developers Conference in 2020, months before the M1’s debut. They were intended only to let developers get a head start testing their macOS applications on an Apple processor.