Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research, claims Apple will likely unveil a netbook in the first half of 2009, with a price tag of about $599. The computers offered by Apple are pretty expensive compared to Windows systems, and Gottheil explains Apple a low-priced laptop could boost Apple's sales.
"Apple is facing the possibility that as the economic news gets worse, that they're increasingly pricing themselves out of an important market," said Gottheil. "Economic conditions are accelerating this."
Apple won't compete directly with netbooks on price or size, Gottheil maintained, but will have to respond with something he characterized as an "entry-level notebook" that could compete with the $300-$500 price tags of most netbooks. Currently, Apple's lowest-priced notebook is the older, white-cased MacBook, which the company retained when it unveiled new unibody MacBooks and MacBook Pros last month. That MacBook lists for $999, although Best Buy has launched a sale of Apple hardware that prices the model at $899.
Gottheil pegged the debut of a lower-priced laptop at sometime in the first six months of 2009, and said that the most likely price point would be $599. He based that on comments a month ago by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who dismissed any desire to play in the netbook market as currently defined. "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that," Jobs said at the time.
More info at ComputerWorld. Last month Mac sales dropped 1 percent in the US, even though the rest of the industry rose 2 percent.