Rumors of a more budget-friendly $799 MacBook Air to arrive later this year have been floating around the Internet, but the Taiwanese tech publication DigiTimes claims real evidence: they say “sources from the upstream supply chain” have confirmed that the cheaper Air is indeed in the works. (It’s important to note, though, as Mashable does, that DigiTimes doesn’t have a perfect track record with such rumors.)
This aggressive price drop, seemingly a response to the upcoming release of Intel’s second-generation ultrabook, could lead to disappointing sales for Intel if the company is unable to reach their targeted $699 price point. An ultrabook is a higher-end, ultra-slim subnotebook, comparable to Apple’s MacBook Air in both construction and performance. Both Apple and Intel aim to release their upgraded products in the third quarter of 2012, just in time for back-to-school — but Intel is presumably awaiting the release of Windows 8 in efforts to attain a better sales performance.
Intel has invested enormous amounts of money into this product for research, development, and promotions. They’ve also assigned $300 million to ultrabooks alone and another $100 million to the development of an application store. If Apple does implement this strategy, then the unnamed sources note that the lower-priced “MacBook Air may further postpone the time ultrabooks become standardized,” and that the strategy would successfully “damage ultrabooks, allowing Apple to continue to press its advantage.”
This is not the first time we’ve heard whispers regarding Apple products that have failed to materialize. The buzz surrounding a potentially smaller and cheaper iPad mini has been topping tech headlines for quite some time now. According to CNET’s ongoing poll, 59% of respondents would be interested in purchasing an iPad mini. Demand is already high for these Apple devices, but luckily for competitors like Intel, there’s no tangible evidence of a supply to come.
Apple is undeniably a major tech-industry player, and any move on their part would significantly — and most likely negatively — affect their competitors. While any price cut might seem unnecessary for this tremendously successful company, speculation about a cheaper MacBook Air is still just that, barring an announcement from Apple itself. What do you think? Could the $799 Air be a reality?