Why doesn’t Apple have a Mac netbook? PC netbooks are growing in popularity, sales, and quality. The latest is from Acer and is inspired by Italian automaker Ferrari. It’s red, sleek, fast, loaded, and does not cost $300.
The Acer Ferrari One comes with WiFi, Bluetooth, Windows 7, and a large 11.6 inch screen, that’ll run 1080p high definition video. Something interesting is happening in the netbook market. High prices.
The first round of PC netbooks ranged in price between $300 and $500. They were underpowered, with poor screens, low battery life, ran Windows XP or a flavor of Linux.
The inexpensive plastic clamshell design also came with basics—a gigabyte of RAM, Bluetooth, WiFi, and either a 32 gigabyte flash drive, or a 160 gigabyte hard disk drive. Not bad for not much more than the price of an iPod touch.
The second generation PC netbooks also came with stylish colors and became a quick hit with students; short on cash and in need of a lightweight way to check email and browse the web.
Many early netbook adopters were disappointed with performance and quality in the diminutive PCs. Still, sales grew rapidly, despite cramped keyboards, small, and dimly lit screens.
Desktop and notebook PC users quickly found that netbooks were often underpowered compared to their more expensive cousins. Mac users made fun of the plastic body and girlish colors. Sales continued to grow.
Along the way, technology pundits decried Apple’s lack of an entry in the netbook market as a major faux pas. The lowest MacBook is the lowly white plastic model, which lists at $999. Yet, despite the onslaught of cheaper PCs, Mac sales continue to grow.
Ferrari One Two Punch
Acer’s Ferrari One comes with a one, two punch. The first punch is the overall quality and feature set; a dual core AMD processor, plenty of RAM and disk space, Windows 7 and all the add ons; Blutooth to WiFi to larger screen.
Befitting the name Ferrari, this is one netbook that is worthy of consideration from PC road warriors.
The second punch is the price tag. About $800 US. While some manufacturers continue to crank out cheaper netbook models, some makers are bucking the trend with higher quality. Quality costs money.
Apple’s Problem & Response
The Mac maker has either a problem or terrific opportunity. Rumors persist that Apple will introduce a low priced Mac, aimed at protecting the low end of Apple’s high end market segment.
The problem with a $699 MacBook, smaller and lighter than the aluminum MacBook Pro line, is economics. Not only would profit be reduced, a $699 MacBook would cannibalize sales from the more expensive models.
What can Apple do to avoid market and profit erosion from netbooks or an inexpensive Mac? Change the game with a game changer. Produce a ‘special’ Mac.
We’ve heard of and read about the rumors of a Mac touch, or an iPad, or and iTablet, a $699 10-inch multi-touch screen device that runs OS X Snow Leopard, or iPhone OS. Or both.
Snow Leopard itself has become more touch friendly with navigation using the Dock, onscreen typing via an enlarged and enhanced keyboard utility. A thin touch screen device could do the impossible and fit perfectly between the iPod touch and iPhone, and Apple’s highly profitable and hot selling MacBook Pro models.
The difficulty Apple faces is getting the right device at the right price with the right specifications. Whatever the specs and price, Apple will aim for a game changing moment. High flying AAPL would take a big hit if the company launched another cube—elegant and overpriced.
My prediction is straightforward. Apple’s answer to the netbook sales growth will not be just a lower priced MacBook. The response must change the way we think about small, inexpensive personal computers.
Apple did exactly that with the iPhone and iPod touch. Can they do the same with a touch screen Mac? The answer is yes. The question is how? And when?