Apple is rumored to release a $799 MacBook Air in the third quarter to rival against Intel ultrabooks. If this comes to fruition, it would be the first non-iOS device by Apple currently on the market to be cheaper than an iPad.
Even if we’re specifically talking about a 64GB WiFi+4G iPad, the line between MacBooks and iPads is becoming significantly blurrier.
DigiTimes originally reported the $799 MacBook rumor, citing supply chain sources. For the past year, Intel has feverishly been trying to market an ultrabook — a super-thin, efficient and fast laptop — for around $699. Most computer manufacturers are still a ways off from hitting that goal target price, such as Dell, whose XPS 13 ultra book is priced at $999.
Currently, Apple’s 11-inch MacBook Air with 64 GB of flash storage is $999 and a 128GB version is $1200. According to the DigiTimes rumor, the 11-inch specs would stay the same for the $799 price-point, but would include an Ivy-Bridge processor. Apple’s 64GB 4G iPad is priced at $829.
These price points force the consumer to ask themselves — do I want a tablet with the same amount of storage for about $30 more, or do I just go for a laptop that is extremely close to the width and weight of an iPad — and is also a product that I can do much more on. It’s a problem Apple could face with a cheaper MacBook.
Apple fanboys love to believe that we’re moving closer and closer to the “post-PC” world that Steve Jobs dreamt about, but I’m not sure making MacBooks more accessible and affordable is helping that cause.
Then again, a cheaper MacBook (this would officially be the cheapest MacBook ever released by Apple) also makes sense in a lot of ways. First, storage is becoming less of a factor when purchasing computer with the recent advancements in cloud technology. With less demand for higher amounts of storage, those prices will certainly drop. So while 64GB of flash storage used to be worth $999, it makes total sense that it could be worth $799.
Market research says 40 million (non-Apple) ultra books will be sold worldwide in 2012, based on Intel’s $699 price claim. If Apple announces a $799 MacBook Air packing an Ivy-Bridge processor, that number could be much lower.