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Old Mar 7, 2010, 03:08 PM   #1
VespR
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Can Apple justify the price of the Air at the next release?

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great little machine. Certainly a feat of engineering and it's my ideal replacement for my late 2008 15" MBP.

When the Air was released it came with a very high price, for what were at the time and in comparison to its other product lines slightly weaker components. It removed a lot of (in their opinion) waste and simplified the computer to tasks that most people only ever used. It also introduced a completely new manufacturing process to create the laptop. The unibody.

The argument was that due to the manufacturing methods and the unibody design, that in order to recover the costs from the R&D of the laptop it had to have a significantly higher premium price compared to the other laptops in the product lineup. Despite it's weaker components. That was three years ago. And the product still sold like hotcakes.

Yes the price of the computer has come down, dramatically you might say but should the next release lower the cost of entry even more? I think so.

Firstly the manufacturing has bled into the other laptops. Every Apple laptop now comes from unibody engineering. Apple have recovered those R&D costs in my opinion. It shouldn't cost Apple any more than the Macbook to manufacture the Air.

And secondly you only have to look at the hardware components themselves now. Excluding the SSD which justifiably warrants a higher price, we're looking at components that are considerably cheaper to purchase at bulk in the MBA than the entry level Macbook.

Both computers have identical memory, though it's unclear as to whether the MBA is a single 2GB chip soldiered on (maybe someone can clarify?) compared to the MB's two 1GB chips. The price there is negligible.

The CPU in the MB is more expensive than MBA.
The MB has more ports, surely higher costs.
The MB has a 7hr battery (and that is new technology by Apple's count).
The MB stock hard drive is much better - though Apple arguably has millions of those 1.8" drives leftover from their iPod Classic heydays.
The Superdrive, probably worth $20-30 more in value.
MB has stereo speakers instead of mono.
The screens are maybe close enough to one another, but I'm sure people will tell me (and they're probably right) the MBA definitely has a stronger display.
The new glass trackpad found in the MB over the MBA.

Now taking light of those hardware components I've highlighted above, you would think the MB would swing $500 more expensive than the Air, but it's of course the other way round and I find it interesting Apple are still chasing the premium on this computer, which don't get me wrong I'm very fond of and have previously stated is in line to be my next purchase (especially now that I cycle to work - the lighter weight will be a godsend).

My point is that after three years I believe the Air most likely costs less now to manufacture than the MB, based on the hardware components alone but also due to the fact that the other machines have adopted the techniques used to manufacture the now iconic Air.

In the next release it will be interesting what direction Apple goes with regards to the pricing. Even when you look at the base MBP. With SD card and other more expensive components, you're still looking at a computer which costs $300 less.

Anyway, if you got this far thanks for reading. So should Apple lower the price a bit more on the next release or is worth maintaing that slightly higher entry point for the 'cool factor'?

--

As a final disclaimer so I don't get flamed by Air aficionados I've already stated I dig the machine and would be prepared to buy it at the current price.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 03:22 PM   #2
VespR
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I'll also add another reason the MBA was so expensive originally was due to the custom chips they purchased from Intel, which isn't the case anymore.

Then again they weren't exactly custom chips by Intel because it was something they had originally made but there was no market for at the time. When Apple came calling the greenlit the project again.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 04:02 PM   #3
archipellago
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Apple don't now, nor have ever, felt the need to justify the price of their products.

they see the lack of value as part of their 'exclusive' image.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 04:51 PM   #4
VespR
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Originally Posted by archipellago View Post
Apple don't now, nor have ever, felt the need to justify the price of their products.

they see the lack of value as part of their 'exclusive' image.
Not sure what the heck you're getting at, though I'm sure it's something smart

But their prices are typically inline with other hardware manufacturers of similar spec, though I think the real value is obviously in the OS and extended iLife suite.

Three years ago the Air was justifiable because of the R&D and culminating shift it represented, not so much now.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 05:04 PM   #5
zedsdead
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I have been saying this for a while now. The Air had many advantages over even the first Aluminum Macbook, but those advantages are gone now. It should at most cost the same price as the Plastic Macbook.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 05:06 PM   #6
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When the MBA first came out, it was the only player on the block. Now Sony is a serious competitor on the high end (with specs that blow Apple out of the water) and Dell is a competitor on the lower end (with a really nice package in the V13 at a great price). The MBA will eventually need to distinguish itself against one of these competitors. We either need to see a serious spec bump or a serious price drop. Will be interesting to see how things play out.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 06:16 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by zedsdead View Post
I have been saying this for a while now. The Air had many advantages over even the first Aluminum Macbook, but those advantages are gone now. It should at most cost the same price as the Plastic Macbook.
A $999 MacBook Air would sell like hotcakes!
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 06:36 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by VespR View Post
But their prices are typically inline with other hardware manufacturers of similar spec
Haha... good one.

Either you're joking or you haven't compared the prices of Core2Duo laptops with the MacBook Pro line recently.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 06:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by MoTo77 View Post
Haha... good one.

Either you're joking or you haven't compared the prices of Core2Duo laptops with the MacBook Pro line recently.

Maybe you haven't, because I've been looking for a MacBook replacement on the PC side. To get the featureset and build quality, you're paying pretty freakin close. As a benefit, though, you're getting Core i5 or i7 processors as well.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 06:54 PM   #10
euanmackie
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i think it fits well in the line up. being a comparative next to the top spec mbp 13. a strong choice for customers over style and weight compared to function and power.

Hopefully it will get a spec bump to be more powerful and maybe a few tricks up its sleeve. Because for a lot of customers the Ipad will replace the macbook air in the way its used, especially after a good selection of creative apps appear.

I think so many of apples customers are attracted by the air, however end up with the mbp because of the functionality,
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 07:29 PM   #11
Raje
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A 13" MBP with an SSD costs $1819 a MBA with SSD costs $1799. Granted the MBP is faster and has a superdrive (+ $100 to the cost of the MBA) but that is worth the reduced weight and thickness imo.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 07:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VespR View Post
Both computers have identical memory, though it's unclear as to whether the MBA is a single 2GB chip soldiered on (maybe someone can clarify?) compared to the MB's two 1GB chips. The price there is negligible.

The CPU in the MB is more expensive than MBA.
The memory in the MacBook Air, is soldered directly onto the motherboard as 16 individual units (8 per side). Look at the ifixit page or the pinned thread on taking apart the air in this forum.

Actually, the CPU on the Air is significantly more expensive. SL9600 is a specialized lower voltage unit with double the L2 cache (6MB vs. 3MB) vs. the Core 2 Duo chip both of the 13" MacBook Pro models or the 13" MacBook.

Also, you have to remember the market at which the Air is aimed and look at the machines that Apple considers its competition.
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 07:42 PM   #13
MartiNZ
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Originally Posted by appleguy123 View Post
A $999 MacBook Air would sell like hotcakes!
Mmm hotcakes.

Yeah, sign me up .
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Old Mar 7, 2010, 07:56 PM   #14
flynz4
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Originally Posted by Raje View Post
A 13" MBP with an SSD costs $1819 a MBA with SSD costs $1799. Granted the MBP is faster and has a superdrive (+ $100 to the cost of the MBA) but that is worth the reduced weight and thickness imo.
I would personally only consider the SSD versions of any laptop. To be totally fair, you should consider the cost of the MBP with an aftermarket SSD, rather then ordering directly from Apple pre-configured.

OTOH: The MBA should probably be considered buying the SSD from Apple because of the difficulty (and non-user installable nature) of installing an aftermarket SSD.

So: the most valid comparison is an MBA w/Apple installed SSD, vs. an MBP with a user installed SSD.

To me, not not having the bulk and weight if an optical drive is an advantage. The thinness and light weight of my Rev C MBA w/SSD makes it the best (by far) laptop that I have ever owned. I plan on buying a rev D when it is released. My wife is looking forward to retiring her 15" MBP when she inherits my current MBA.

/Jim
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