updated 07:06 am EDT, Mon May 7, 2012
Taiwanese supply chain news source Digitimes is reporting that Apple may be prepping a MacBook Air priced at $799 for Q3. According to its sources in the upstream supply chain, Apple may be positioning itself to address a renewed push by Intel to kickstart sluggish ultrabook sales to date. Intel is said to have put in place ambitious sales targets of 20-30 million ultrabooks for 2012, driven by pricing taking the second wave of ultrabooks below the $700 threshold.
An Apple MacBook Air priced at $799 would help to put continued pressure on Windows ultrabook makers who have recorded relatively disappointing sales in the category to date, which remains skewed in Apple’s favor. On launch, ultrabook makers complained to Intel that its chipset prices made it difficult to compete with Apple’s relatively sharp pricing at the time. Since then ultrabook makers have found different solutions to help sharpen their pricing, including the re-introduction of spinning hard drives or hybrid drives, as well as opting for cheaper casings driving prices up to $200 or more dollars below Apple’s MacBook Air. The cheaper materials, however, have come at the expense of quality, which is where Apple continues to reign.
Although Apple’s stellar Q1 resultswas headlined by the performance of its iPhone and iPad lines, it also recorded a 26 percent increase in Mac sales year-over-year of 5.2 million. Although Apple does not always break down its Mac sales, its $999 11-inch MacBook is known to be a volume seller. At the same time, since the launch of the original MacBook Air, various iterations of the notebook have cost hunders of dollars more than they do now. The current price points have moved them from a niche product into the mainstream.
The next generation of ultrabooks is expected to arrive sometime after May as Intel ramps its production of ULV-based Ivy Bridge-era processors. Ultrabooks with touchscreens, recently derided by Apple CEO Tim Cook as an unnatural amalgam, are not expected to arrive until the fall with the arrival of the touch-aware Windows 8. With ultrabook pricing continuing to fall, and the arrival of Redmond’s latest OS, it would not surprise to see Apple continue to price the MacBook Air line aggressively.