What the hell is Apple thinking with its new iPod mini? The big rumor floating around before Macworld 2004 was that Apple would release smaller, cheaper iPods, so that those who couldn’t afford the $299 starting price could still get in on the action. Well, they delivered — the new iPod is both smaller and cheaper. Kind of. It is $249 and comes with a 4GB drive. Two questions immediately spring to mind: 1.) How does this really help the person who couldn’t afford the $299 model? and 2.) Why the hell wouldn’t someone just hold out a little longer, save an extra $50, and get an iPod with 73% more space? The idea is for Apple to compete with the flash-based and low-end HD players (why anyone would buy a flash-based player is beyond me, but to each his own), not with their other iPod. John Gruber makes an argument that pricing really has nothing to do with it and that the selling point is, and is supposed to be, its smaller size. I might entertain this theory if ever I heard someone complain about the iPod’s size, but I haven’t. Ever. I’ve never heard someone complain about the 20GB 2nd-gen iPod, much less the skinnier, lighter 3rd-gen models. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever complained about its size, which, I dare say, is quite the compliment. If its selling point really is its form-factor, then we should expect a mad rush of people snatching these up as they have no doubt been waiting around for Apple to produce a smaller model. I don’t buy it. Like I said, the argument is lost on me and I think Apple is going to have to come down on the price for the thing to sell.