Though AppleInsider keeps its sources tightly guarded, the information seems to make sense. With the lack of market traction seen by the AppleTV "hobby," adding an HDMI port to the Mac Mini may signal a new direction in Apple's quest to obtain total media control in consumer homes. AppleInsider claims the Mac Mini with HDMI already exists in the wild with the only difference being the HDMI port replacing the traditional DVI port.
It is certainly feasible that Apple would include the HDMI port into its Macs. High-definition televisions are increasingly common in homes with prices continually dropping. Giving Mac users a simple way to interact with their media-watching devices from their computers gives Apple yet another inroad to being the sole provider of media experiences. So, instead of purchasing (or renting) a DVD, you simply need to purchase a movie from the iTunes Store, connect your computer to your TV via HDMI, and press play. The lack of Blu-ray format on Macs becomes a non-issue as digital download quality continues to increase and the ease of connecting your computer to your television makes handling any sort of optical media seem obsolete.
Make no mistake, the days of optical drives are numbered. Just as Apple pushed the envelope by not including a 3.5-inch floppy drive on the iMacs of old, it seems poised to be phasing out the need for optical media. Flash-based devices and storage are becoming more economically viable. Connectivity between computers and televisions are nearly seamless. And, the quality of media streaming and downloads are getting closer and closer to being comparable to disc-based media, especially when you consider the convenience factors.
What does your media experience look like in the future? Does it include Apple? Let us know in the comments!