Apple Looking to Launch $799 MacBook Air in 3Q 2012?

Digitimes reports that Apple is planning to launch a cheaper MacBook Air in the third quarter of this year, dropping the entry-level price to $799 from the current $999. The move is reportedly being made to take on Intel's "Ultrabook" initiative that is pushing low-cost, ultra-thin notebook PCs.

Although Acer has recently reduced its ultrabook shipment target, Intel continues to aggressively push ultrabooks and is aiming to have the devices priced at US$699 in the second half of the year. However, if Intel is unable to bring down ASPs to its goal, the price gap between ultrabooks and the US$799 MacBook Air may further postpone the time ultrabooks become standardized, the sources noted.

Ultrabook manufacturers have so far struggled to match or beat Apple's MacBook Air pricing, leading to weak shipments. But Intel remains committed to the initiative, and is working with manufacturers to continue to bring prices down.

macbook air open finger
It is unclear just how Apple would achieve a $200 price cut on the MacBook Air, given the company's focus on maintaining high profit margins. Certainly pricing on the solid-state drives used in the MacBook Air will continue to fall, but Apple likely has only limited flexibility to bring down pricing. And given the strong performance of the MacBook Air as Ultrabooks continue to struggle, it is not immediately obvious whether Apple would even see a need to lower pricing on its models.

Digitimes has a spotty track record with regard to Apple rumors, although it has on occasion offered accurate insight based on sources in Apple's supply chain. The publication's recent claims regarding Apple's notebook plans including a report of production being underway on slimmer 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models, as well as a suggestion that Apple is considering a 14-inch MacBook Air for Asian markets.

Related Roundup: MacBook Air
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Air (Neutral)
Related Forum: MacBook Air

Top Rated Comments

dethmaShine Avatar
120 months ago
/Digitimes.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
scarred Avatar
120 months ago
This rumour is obviously true. Apple has always "raced to the bottom" with the rest of the PC manufacturers. They always want the lowest prices.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Boisv Avatar
120 months ago
It would be nice but I doubt it.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
danwayfilms Avatar
120 months ago
It's never a good sign when the subject is a question.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iZac Avatar
120 months ago
Discounting whether there is truth to this or not, surely the current bottom spec Macbook Air is now $200 cheaper to manufacture than it was last July? Apples new strategy seems to be to keep on the base model of the last generation at a discounted price... at least for iOS products
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Small White Car Avatar
120 months ago
Apple is able to have cheaper items as long as they minimize cannibalization by giving those cheaper products a noticeable disadvantage. Like, not just less RAM or something, but a difference you can really SEE right in the store.

In other words, selling the iPhone 3GS doesn't hurt iPhone 4S sales...they just pick up people who would never have bought a 4S, but it doesn't tempt the people who wanted a 4S with that nice sharp display.

In the past the iMac/eMac relationship worked the same way.

So this could work, but there has to be a hook that keeps most buyers in the higher models. Just a guess, but these new high-resolution displays I keep hearing about could be one such thing. If the stores are stocked with amazing-looking high-res Macbooks they can be sure most folks will still spring for that once they get a look at it.

Then, in addition to having older screens, make these cheap Macbooks with less SSD space as the only option and you start to have a computer that will pick up lower-end buyers without tempting the regulars.

Not saying it's gonna happen, but if they want to do it that's how they could.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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