Apple to disrupt nascent ultrabook business with US$799 MacBook Air

7 May 2012

Apple is understood to be planning to drive a significant wedge into the emerging ultrabook market with a US$799 MacBook Air, according to supply chain reports from Asia.

Ultrabooks are the key area of growth targeted by Intel in the coming years. Apple was pretty much first to market with its ultra-light MacBook Air devices.

However, rivals like Dell, Samsung, Toshiba and Acer have been entering the market with competing devices in recent months.

Not willing to concede ground to these rivals Apple is reportedly hard at work with a competing design – a US$799 MacBook Air – that will potentially put a spanner in the works of other players.

According to Asian tech wire Digitimes the US$799 may come to market in the third quarter of 2012.

If Apple is on target with this it could enjoy a similar dominance of the ultrabook space that it currently enjoys in the tablet space with its iPad.

The nearest rival to reach a similar price point is Acer which is endeavouring to come on stream with a US$699 device.

Intel has set aside a fund of US$300m for ultrabooks plus another US$100m to develop its own app store.

Could Apple dominate the ultrabook space before it is really born

The arrival of Microsoft Windows 8 in October could bolster new ultrabook arrivals. But the speed of growth in popularity of the Mac platform and the reasonable price point could frustrate a lot of vendors’ plans.

The existing 64GB MacBook Air costs US$999 and a 128GB version costs US$1,199. Furthermore the 13-inch 128GB version costs US$1,299 and a 256GB version costs US$1,599.

However, there have also been rumours Apple may dispense with its MacBook Pro brand and bring out a new range of MacBook Air sized higher end MacBook devices in a move that again potentially raises the bar of computing as we know it.

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