$799 MacBook Air may debut later this year

Apple might introduce a dramatically cheaper MacBook Air soon, if we’re to believe the latest whispers from the Far East. DigiTimes quotes "sources from the upstream supply chain" who expect a $799 model to make its debut in the third quarter of 2012. If they’re right, the machine would cost $200 less than the current 11.6" MacBook Air… and perhaps not a whole lot more than next-gen ultrabooks.

As we mentioned last week, Intel expects the next wave of ultrabooks (based on its Ivy Bridge CPUs and new composite materials) to be priced as low as $599-699. The chipmaker pointed to $699 as the "mainstream" figure and said some models might be as cheap as $599 in "selected regions," though it didn’t say which regions those would be.

I hate to say it, but I find the rumor a little implausible. Apple isn’t exactly known for pricing Macs very aggressively. iPads and iPhones, sure—the $99 iPhone 4 and $399 iPad 2 are good high-volume items—but not Macs. Just look at the Mac mini: it starts at $599 without a display, keyboard, or mouse… and with only 2GB of RAM.

If any MacBook Air is going to sell for $799, it’ll almost certainly be an 11.6" model. The most affordable 13" Air carries a $1299 price tag right now, and I don’t see a $500 price cut from one generation to the next in Apple’s future. Not if Mac sales continue to grow faster than the PC industry at large, as they have.

Comments closed
    • obarthelemy
    • 10 years ago

    People still believe a $99 phone +contract only costs $99 ?

    This is sad, sad, sad. Especially from a tech journalist than should know better, and not dumbly repeat marketing lies.

    • PixelArmy
    • 10 years ago

    Don’t want to shill for T-Mobile (or really go off topic), but you don’t need unlimited everything (I have a value plan and certainly don’t have all that). What you prefer is actually listed as “500 Minute Value—Talk” lower on that page I linked. Add data based on what you want/need.

    • NeelyCam
    • 10 years ago

    Only plans with unlimited calls/text/data available for that. I would much rather get something actually cheaper, with no text, less minutes and reduced data.

    • PixelArmy
    • 10 years ago

    [quote=”http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/Packages/ValuePackages.aspx”<]Pay full price for your phone and, in exchange, get a lower monthly rate[/quote<]

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 10 years ago

    I don’t know about unlimited plans, but if you don’t use a contract and just buy your own phone, there are even cheaper options available.

    The US isn’t a void of competing options. It’s a void of people who use the internet to look at what options are available first, and instead just walk into Best Buy and sign up for the $100 per month plan without thinking twice.

    Businesses are going to use the sales pitch that prevails in a particular culture.

    • yogibbear
    • 10 years ago

    At what size do people stop buying iPads and start buying Macbook Air’s?

    • Alexko
    • 10 years ago

    Sure, but if Canada can manage this for $35/month, surely the US could do the same, if not better.

    • Decelerate
    • 10 years ago

    To be fair, France has practically twice the population in an area less than 1/14th of the size of Canada.

    The geographic/demographic settings help telcos [i<]just a bit[/i<].

    • Alexko
    • 10 years ago

    In France, you can get unlimited national calling and texting + unlimited data (with reduced bandwidth after 3GB/month) for €20 (about $26); or even €16 (under $21) if you get your broadband from the same company.

    I don’t know if you can get a discount for not subsidizing your phone in the US, but if not, the fact that carriers are ripping you off doesn’t make the iPhone (or any other smartphone, for that matter) cheaper.

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    wind is awesome, IF you live in the 3 neighbor hoods that they cover. their roaming charges are super high.

    • crose
    • 10 years ago

    Excellent.. I think they should make it mandatory to print the complete price including monthly payments for the duration of the contract.. like this: $99 ( total including contract: $1,000,000 )

    • entropy13
    • 10 years ago

    It is with much hope that I welcome this news. Another source of TRUE enlightenment for the unconverted masses. This will definitely further enhance the glory of the Holy Apple.

    • WasabiVengeance
    • 10 years ago

    The first 2 sentences don’t make sense at all together.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    “The most affordable [b<][u<]13" Air[/b<][/u<] carries a $1299 price tag" derp.

    • WasabiVengeance
    • 10 years ago

    “The most affordable 13″ Air carries a $1299 price tag”
    No. Most affordable is the $999 11″ air.

    So, assuming the same model, it’s a $200 price cut.

    • Shambles
    • 10 years ago

    I pay $35/month for unlimited data, unlimited USA + Canada calling and unlimited world texting. windmobile.ca. Have fun with your contracts. I’ll be off buying my phone outright and saving thousands over the 2-3 years. I’m sure Euro-TR could even trash my plan quite a bit more.

    • jdaven
    • 10 years ago

    They could be announcing it at WWDC next month for release in July three weeks later. Or they could mean Apple’s financial third quarter which is now.

    At any rate, 17W IB chips are not due until June. I think the same will be true for 17W Trinity chips too.

    • no51
    • 10 years ago

    Dunno why you got downvoted, maybe people forgot that regular macbooks used plastic bodies.

    edit: i guess they don’t sell non-pro macbooks anymore?

    • brucethemoose
    • 10 years ago
    • blastdoor
    • 10 years ago

    I don’t think there’s anything sacred about $999 for Macs. If Apple can sell a quality product at a lower price while maintaining margins, I’m sure they’ll do it. So the question then becomes whether that’s feasible with the Air. Whether exactly $799 is feasible, I don’t know. But it does seem that there are three reasons to think that a lower price might be possible. First, we know flash prices are constantly falling (thanks Moore’s Law!), so if they hold the SSD at 64 GB they might be able to pass some of the falling SSD price on to consumers (plus, Apple gets great deals on flash anyway). Second, we know that Apple places much more value on GPU performance than CPU performance (look at all those years they stuck with C2D to avoid crappy Intel graphics), and that suggests they might find AMD a credible alternative to Intel (IF AMD can just make the darn things). Third, costs of manufacturing the Air’s unique body might be lower now than they were a couple of years ago (economies of scale and improvements in processes).

    Does that add up to $200 for MSRP? It very well might.

    • [SDG]Mantis
    • 10 years ago

    I wonder if a budget Air might keep the current 11.6″ models low-res (1366×768) screen while the higher end models go with higher resolution (1920×1080 or more) screens.

    • Decelerate
    • 10 years ago

    Aren’t they supposed to refresh the line by summer? By the third quarter I expect them to refresh the ipod/imac lines.

    Imo laptops are due to absorb all the back-to-school market. Then again higher-res monitor, if true, might be an obstacle…

    • ozymandias
    • 10 years ago

    At the moment, apple is actually pricing the macbook air agressively. At this point, there is little competition that matches its features (full aluminium, decent screen (and on the 13″, better than the lousy 1366*768 resolution every manufacturer worships), true full SSD, and expansion through a hihg speed protocol). The only real competition you get is from the asus Zenbooks, which mostly match the spec (SSD is a bit faster), but at only 100€ less.

    When I was shopping for an ultrabook, I nearly got a macbook air, as little comes near it (apart from the zenbook). But I did end up buying a vaio Z – which was then at an equal price as the cheapest 13″ macbook, and thus did beat all of them.

    If apple would lower its price, without making build quality sacrifices (such as using plastic), other makers would be in trouble. You start to wonder why the air is selling so well, but ultrabooks in general don’t.

    • ew
    • 10 years ago

    Running iOS and using a A5X processor. That would be interesting and possibly make this possible.

    • link626
    • 10 years ago

    seeing how the $399 ipad is putting pressure on full-feature android tablets, I wouldn’t be surprised to see MBA putting pressure on ultrabooks.
    i think apple has a way to make profit even with lower prices

    • oMa
    • 10 years ago

    Cheaper cpu/gpu maybe? Trinity?

    • superjawes
    • 10 years ago

    Granted, but in this case, commenting on how the price is apparently going down, I suspect it will be a very small display. Apple is one of the worst when it comes to upgrade premiums (like $200 for 4GB of ram), so if this is going to be the significantly cheaper than other Air models, I suspect it will be significatly trimmed down.

    • Airmantharp
    • 10 years ago

    I suppose you get a discount for not subsidizing your phone?

    Link please?

    • SPOOFE
    • 10 years ago

    It’s like the Tortoise and the Hare over here!

    • Ricardo Dawkins
    • 10 years ago

    Race to the bottom!

    • BBHorus
    • 10 years ago

    Are they going with plastic too?

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    it won’t matter, it’ll still sell. it could be 6 inches and for 799 people would still buy it.

    • superjawes
    • 10 years ago

    Yeah, the $99 is what the providers charge. It’s how they rope people into contracts.

    “iPhones list for $500, but you can get one for the low price of $99*!”

    • superjawes
    • 10 years ago

    I bet it’ll be 9.7″ or smaller.

    • Alexko
    • 10 years ago

    “iPads and iPhones, sure—the $99 iPhone 4”

    In a magical land where contracts are free, sure, the iPhone 4 costs $99.

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