Apple sub-US$800 laptop on way – Jobs wants to triumph over netbooks

9 Oct 2008

There is speculation that Apple is about to jump into the low-cost laptop business with devices under US$800 tipped to be launched on 14 October.

It is understood that reporters in Silicon Valley have already received invitations to attend an event at San Francisco’s town hall where the new laptops will be unveiled.

Whether Apple will unveil a sub-notebook device or simply a low-cost Mac laptop is not yet clear, but what is clear is the company is unlikely to stand idly by as a new form factor or genre of notebook holds sway.

Sub-notebooks or netbooks have become one of the fastest-growing areas in computing, featuring devices such as Asus’ EEE PC or the Acer AspireOne. Other major notebook manufacturers like Dell and Lenovo have also entered the market with tiny, low-cost laptops selling for less than €400.

Most of the rumours surrounding the Apple netbooks centre on a leaked price list that shows Apple notebooks ranging from as low as US$800 –  up to now, the lowest price of a Mac notebook was US$1,100.

Should Apple remain true to the leaked price list, such a device would be the first sub-US$1,000 laptop ever produced by the company, and could be a reaction to the economic change of tide that has left many consumers more price-conscious than ever before.

Photographs have also begun circulating on the internet showing shiny aluminium laptop casings, and their size alone suggests the new devices would be more like standard-size laptops than netbooks per se. The pictures seen online suggest Apple is using a new manufacturing process where the laptop case is cut out of a brick of aluminium.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: the MacBook Air was a sensation when first released earlier this year. Will Apple trump this hype with a sub-US$800 laptop as rumoured?

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years