Does the huge MacBook Air price drop suggest an imminent revision?

Apple is becoming better known for tooting it’s own horn, especially where price point/performance improvements are concerned. Yet, the recent drop of $500 off the price of the high-end MacBook Air ($400 less for the SSD drive and $100 for the 1.8GHz CPU) breaks with that pattern; no press releases or fanfare of any sort. Why?

Popular speculation is that a newer, faster, better Air may be just around the corner.

Lack of attention to the price drop may indicate a wish on Apple’s part to sell off the older models faster, if not in larger volume….then perhaps in order to clear space for the new MacBook Air.

Such a price drop could facilitate an early clear out of the old models to make room for the new models in time to avoid an even bigger price drop down the road.

Apple would be wise to hedge it’s bet in such a manner with consumers spending more cautiously than ever.

There are certain weaknesses that could stand to be fortified with a new model that would be music to the ears of any Apple user in the market for a new laptop.

With a few relatively minor changes, the MacBook Air could far better serve as the only computer most users will need; as virtually everyone, particularly the spec-savvy power users who are the backbone of Rumors readership, knows…..the current Air displays several crucial weaknesses in value and performance — as well as functionality, largely arising from its lack of Firewire and single USB2 port/bus — which make it a poor desktop replacement candidate compared with even the most basic 13.3-inch Macbook model, which costs a whole lot less than any model of Air.

Given the substantial advancements being made by Intel with their 45-nanometer mobile processors this year, it seems clear that the awkward timing of the original Air’s introduction just as the 45nm revolution was beginning — well before the Air could be spec’d with such processors and still meet cost or availability requirements set by Apple — was its greatest hurdle.

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  • http://neekolas.tumblr.com Nicholas Molnar

    The only thing that would make a big difference in the air, for me, would be built-in 3G; preferably, as a low-cost add-on to my iPhone plan.

  • http://flossyourmind.com raffi jamgotchian

    i would only wish for more memory at this point. A bigger drive would be great but i would be ok without it.

  • ya

    a 15 inch model would sell me on this laptop. i’m fine with all the other specs.

  • Booyah

    I wouldn’t buy this stripped down piece of rubbish at any price. If anything I would buy a new Macbook pro.

  • http://www.connectmenetworks.com Brian Hayashi

    I see something closer to the inexpensive netbook format popularized by companies like Asus and Everex. Asus is one of Apple’s contract manufacturers and has tremendous insight into this emerging category.

    Given some of Oppenheimer’s comments in Apple’s 3Q conference call, I’m thinking the price is going to be the same as netbooks from HP but with dramatically better functionality…say $499?

    I previously worked for Dynamac, the first manufacturer of portable Apple computers. For projected hardware and software specs, along with an analysis of pricing drivers see http://tinyurl.com/57fgm9

  • admin

    Brian,

    You’re somewhat close to the mark…..the big hint dropped during the recent quarterly financial results conference call regarding Apple planning to shrink its margins to make an ever more aggressive assault on the rest of the computing/tech/device world has stirred up a whirlwind of speculation; much of it fairly well thought out and based in reality, but when it comes down to the details, most are getting it wrong.

    There is definitely a new portable product, with an emphasis on bridging the Multi-Touch iDevice world to the emerging Multi-Touch portable computer (e.g. laptop, tablet, other portable form factors of otherwise “full blown” computers rather than pure-bred iDevices — a line which will only be getting fuzzier as time goes by!) offerings such as its latest laptops…..but a lot of the juiciest details are under firm embargo by our sources — much as many other rumor-mongers are now holding the cards close to their chests, hedging their bets and trying not to compromise their sources.

    Nonetheless, this new bridge between Macs & iDevices will be only the beginning of a huge move on Apple’s part to compete aggressively on value and further diversify its offerings.

    Expect several new products this year, along with aggressive revisions of its high-end systems like the Mac Pro & Xserve to start pulling in major large-scale projects that can help offset its aggressive margin-shrinking moves.

    As for the Macbook Air….Steve and everyone in the Executive Suite know better than to let this become another PowerMac G4 Cube fiasco. The upcoming revision will be, I suspect, even more aggressive and exciting than we have thus far predicted….

  • admin

    Brian…..P.S.!

    I forgot to mention the original purpose of opening up this comment reply to your posting: I checked out the site you added to the link section of your comment and it’s very nicely done! Wanted to compliment you on that and wish you well in your future endeavours in Web publishing 🙂