No Cheap MacBooks For You

When we asked whether you’d find a $899 MacBook tempting, a lot of you said “yes.” Alas, it turns out that the rumors of a seriously sub-$100 notebook from Apple were dead wrong. Steve Jobs did announce a $899 product at today’s press event – but it’s a new 24-inch display, not a laptop computer.

Jobs did announce a whole bunch of revisions to the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro product lines, including one-piece aluminum shells, glass trackpads with multitouch, dual graphics chips, and bigger drives. Apple is reducing the entry-level price of the white plastic MacBook to $999 – but there’s a lot of psychological distance between that and the $800 price point that was getting kicked around in the blogs.

There were some significant price decreases in today’s announcements, but they generally amount to reflections of the normal, continuing advance of technology, and not a decision by Apple to play in new markets. For example, the $1300 model of the MacBook now has an instant-on backlit display and a fast graphics processor – which yesterday you would have had to pay $2000 to get in the MacBook Pro line. And at the high end of the line, there’s a $2500 machine with 4GB of RAM, dual graphics chips including one with 512MB, and a 320GB hard drive – more power than you could have gotten in any Apple laptop before this.

Despite the fantasies of low-price MacBooks, it seems pretty clear that Apple knows its core audience well. Some of the statistics that came out at the event include that Apple sells more notebooks in education than Dell does (with 39% of the market), and that Mac sales have outgrown those of the industry for 14 of the last 15 quarters.

Today’s announcements didn’t include anything that most web workers will see as game-changing. If you’re already an Apple fan, you likely saw some new models that you’d like to have. If you’re happy with a Windows box, nothing shown today is likely to make you switch.

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