Apple Releases Less Expensive MacBook Air With More Features

MacBook Air

Apple has dropped the prices of its revamped MacBook Air laptops by $100 in a move that was quietly made without fanfare.  In addition, the MacBook Airs, even though less expensive, contain more features.  This move marks the first time that Apple has marketed a notebook to the general public for under $900.  The least-expensive Air model, which has an 11-inch screen, now costs $899.  Previously, Apple had sold educational institutions and organizations a MacBook with a plastic case for $899.

Apple has now dropped its prices on the MacBook Air twice in the preceding 10 months, although the prior decrease in pricing, which occurred last October, affected only the two notebooks with 13-inch screens, while the price of the higher-end 11-inch Air was raised.  In the meantime, Apple has decreased the price of the 13-inch Air 14 – 17 percent.

The price of each notebook in the entire line of MacBook Airs was cut $100, resulting in a savings of 7.7 – 10 percent.  The line consists of two models with 11-inch screens and two with 13-inch displays.  The highest-priced Air has a 13-inch screen and a drive for the storage of apps and files of 256GB and retails at $1,199 with the $100 discount.

The lower-priced MacBook Airs are on sale as of today at Apple retail stores and on their website, as well as at some electronic stores.  Orders will be shipped within one day, according to Apple’s website.

Among the tweaks that Apple made to the MacBook Airs is the use of higher-speed processors in all models and longer-lived batteries. The most expensive model now has a 1.4GHz processor chip instead of the 1.3GHz previously included.  What is notable is that Apple did not attempt to recoup its price cuts by dropping the amount of RAM or storage in the Airs.

Sales of personal computers have been on the wane for the past eight quarters, and not just Apple has felt the pain. It is believed that the popularity of the iPad has hurt notebook sales for Apple, and the price cuts will not help, especially since the difference in price between the 11-inch Air and a 128GB iPad Air is now just $100. Things are beginning to look up for Apple, as sales of its Macs declined for only four quarters before they began to increase again. Still, the executives continue to drop prices in order to remain in the positive and to maintain Apple’s footing in the light of increasing competition from Microsoft’s Windows Ultrabook, which have been going up in price over the last two years due to the higher demand for the MacBook Air competitor, making them and the MacBook Air now at the same price point.

The senior vice president of worldwide marketing for Apple, Philip Schiller,  seems to be aware of the looming competition, as a press release today quoted him saying, “With MacBook Air starting at $899, there’s no reason to settle for anything less than a Mac.”  He also explained that today’s changes were made so that the MacBook Airs, which he calls the “perfect everyday notebook,” could prove to be more attainable for everybody.

By Jennifer Pfalz

Computer World
Gotta Be Mobile
Information Week