updated 02:40 pm EDT, Tue August 25, 2009
White MacBook Rework Leak
Apple is in the midst of redesigning its plastic MacBook to cement its share at the lower end of the notebook spectrum, a source said today. An apparent contact for AppleInsider claims that the computer builder is planning a new version of the system that would be lighter and thinner. Redesigned internals would also be part of the plans, though it's uncertain what this would involve.
Speculation suggests the plastic enclosure may borrow the concept of unibody design from current aluminum models and that battery life could be extended, although it's not as clear whether Apple would seal in the battery as it does on MacBook Pros. The current model is sometimes favored by schools for its relatively easily replaceable battery, although the current sealed-in MacBook Pro battery is quickly swapped by technicians.
It's also suspected that the new design will help Apple reduce its entry level notebook's price below $999 for the first time, though this would probably be accomplished both through the design itself as well as through using slightly trailing processor technology. At one point, Apple had purportedly even considered making a pseudo-netbook that would have used Atom processors but had rejected it as antithetical to the brand. The company has publicly derided netbooks for their speed.
Apple's move would potentially be an acknowledgment of a long enough economic crunch that has driven prices downwards for the average notebook. Although it controls the high-end of the US retail notebook market, the company suffers somewhat in direct orders and doesn't compete at all at the low end. Initially, Apple had branded its 13-inch aluminum system as the eventual complete replacement for the MacBook but was forced to keep the plastic model in the poor economy. It remains one of Apple's best-selling systems of any kind.
It's thought that a lower-cost MacBook may fit into the product strategy for the rumored tablet by closing some of the gap between the future touchscreen device and Apple's regular portables.