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Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Killer deal: Mac mini for $599; albums for iPad; Android gets in-app billing

AppleInsider sponsor MacMall has again teamed up with eBay to offer serious savings on a Mac mini for just $599. Also, labels and musicians have begun to bring enhanced albums to the iPad, and Google has debuted in-app billing for Android.

$100 savings on 2.4GHz Mac mini

MacMall and eBay have partnered yet again to offer AppleInsider readers a killer deal on Apple's 2.4GHz Mac mini. The limited promotion amounts to a $100 savings off of Apple's regular asking price for its diminutive desktop.

The deal, part of eBay's March Madness blowout sale, is for a new, unopened Mac mini with a 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 320GB SATA hard drive, Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics, 8X SuperDrive, AirPort Extreme 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, gigabit Ethernet, HDMI port and SD card slot. The limited quantity sale is strictly available to just one per customer.

eBay's March Madness deals are limited to 24 hours or less, or while supplies last. To compare this deal to prices from Apple's other authorized resellers, see the AppleInsider Mac Price Guide, of which the Mac mini section is included below:

Mac mini
Amazon MacMall B&H Photo & Video OnSale.com Adorama
Discount
2.50GHz 2Core i5/4GB/500GB on order $579.99 $579.99+ $589.99 $49.01
2.30GHz 4Core i7/4GB/1TB on order $769.99 $739.99+ $789.99 $59.01
2.30GHz 4Core i7/4GB/2x1TB Server on order $963.15 $949.99+ n/a $49.01
2.60GHz 4Core i7/4GB/1TB n/a n/a yet n/a yet n/a $20.00
2.30GHz 4Core i7/4GB/256SSD n/a n/a yet n/a yet n/a $0.00
2.60GHz 4Core i7/16GB/1TB Fusion n/a n/a yet n/a yet n/a $0.00
2.30GHz 4Core i7/4GB/2x256SSD n/a n/a yet n/a yet n/a $0.00



Labels, artist create enhanced albums for iPad

As noted by The New York Times, numerous music labels and artists have begun creating iPad-specific versions of albums, allowing greater interactivity and enhanced features.

One album profiled was released by EMI last week: "Until One" by Swedish House Mafia. Selling for $9.99, it comes with documentary video scenes, a large photo gallery, notes from the band, and is arranged like a coffee table book.

The goal is to preserve the value of complete albums, as record labels struggle with lost revenue from sales of single tracks. Universal Music Group has teamed up with Eagle Rock Entertainment to bring classic albums, like "Nevermind" by Nirvana, to the iPad as well.

A similar concept to sell entire albums, iTunes LP, was launched by Apple and record labels on iTunes in September of 2009. iTunes LP content includes and entire album with media rich bonus content, like photos and videos. But iTunes LPs cannot yet be played on the iPad.

In-app purchases come to Android

Google this week announced that the long-awaited in-app billing feature is now available for developers on the Android Market. Applications can now offer users the ability to make purchases from within applications

"In-app Billing gives you more ways to monetize your apps with try-and-buy, virtual goods, upgrades, and other billing models," said Android development manager Eric Chu.

A number of applications already support in-app billing, including Tap Tap Revenge, Comicx by ComiXology, Gun Bros, Deer Hunter, Challenge HD, and WSOP3.

Google revealed its plans to add in-app payments to the Android Market earlier this year. Chu also revealed that the search giant was "not happy" about the limited number of applications actually being purchased on the Android Market, and saw in-app payments as a way to potentially boost revenue.

Apple first introduced in-app purchases for the iPhone with the release of iOS 3.0 in 2009. Initially, they were restricted to paid "premium" applications, but later that year Apple granted developers the ability to offer in-app purchases in free software.