Apple will launch netbook competitor in '09, says analyst

Lousy economy will force Apple to launch a US$599 laptop

The stumbling block to such a strategy -- which Gottheil also sees as a way for Apple to play in emerging markets, where the bulk of computer sales growth has occurred -- is that a lower-priced notebook will cannibalize sales of the current MacBook. "That's the only reason not to create this thing," he said.

He recognized that it would be a tough move for Apple, but not impossible. "It will be hard to give up the wonderful revenue they've gotten from basically exiting the entry-level market," Gottheil said. "But what Apple is addicted to more than ASP [Average Sales Price] is market share. And you can't keep flat ASPs forever."

In a research note released to clients last week, Gottheil noted that Mac laptop prices have dropped only an average of 0.1 percent per year in the last seven years. In the meantime, other computer makers have seen their ASPs drop significantly as first desktop, then notebook prices slid under competitive pressure. The netbook phenomenon, he said, is only the latest example of those price drops.

"Because Apple kept the price of its entry-level Macs higher than that of the competition during a long period of price decreases in the industry, Apple has essentially removed itself from the product category of entry-priced PC," Gottheil said in the research note.

Even Jobs left the door open last month to a change in strategy -- if Apple decides it needs to join the netbook game. "We'll wait and see how that nascent category evolves," Jobs said in late October during a conference call with Wall Street analysts. "And we've got some pretty interesting ideas if it does evolve."

According to Gartner, netbooks made up about 5 percent of US mobile PC sales in the second quarter, one to two percentage points over the same period the year before. Their strong sales, said Gartner, were due in large part to the gloomy global economic climate.

Adding a lower-priced notebook to compete with netbooks, Gottheil said, would give Apple "a chance to really gain share," something he sees the company very interested in doing. "It may be a MacBook-like thing, but they'll try to make it as different as they can."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags apple iphoneapple macbooknetbooks

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Gregg Keizer

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?