Apple’s least expensive Mac notebook is the white polycarbonate model at $999. The fastest growing segment of the notebook market is netbooks, which range in price from $250 to $500. Though Apple executives have stated time and again that the Mac maker has no interest in making a cheap, flimsy, underpowered netbook, media pundits continue to insist that Apple enter the growing market for profitless computers.
Stephen Widstrom in BusinessWeek on Apple’s need to sell an $800 MacBook:
The average selling price for Apple laptops in February was $1,512 while that for Windows-based laptops, including netbooks, was $560… the gap is huge and growing.
Yet, regarding Apple’s notebook line, Widstrom admits:
This lineup helps Apple be by far the most profitable company in the PC business.
Yet, regarding a Mac netbook, Widstrom admits:
If all a Mac netbook could do is run a browser as well—or as badly—as a Windows or Linux netbook, what’s the point? It’s just a chance for Apple to get into a commoditized, no-margin business, exactly what Apple has always avoided.
So, what is it that Apple needs to do to to remain viable as a computer maker? Build different.
The result could be a 12- or 13-in. MacBook, significantly thinner and lighter than current offerings and priced at perhaps $800.
That’s what Apple calls the MacBook Air. It’s just overpriced by $1,000.
I have no more clue than anyone else about what Apple is actually doing… but I think the logic of the thin, cheaper MacBook is overwhelming, and I’ll be surprised if such a product is not in Apple’s back-to-school lineup.
What’s overwhelming is the lack of business sense from someone writing for BusinessWeek. Everyone but manufacturers seem to want lower prices. Apple’s discipline is commendable.
The company has managed to avoid market segments where competition is stiff and margins are thin; exactly the kind of markets represented by low-priced notebooks, and lower priced netbooks.