AppleInsider is speculating about the possiblility of a $599 Mac netbook.
If Apple were to do this it would be a strategic mistake and damage their business.
The key to the Mac’s success is the point of difference they have to rest of the computer market. This difference allows them to achieve higher margins.
If Apple want to get down and dirty with Asus, Dell and HP they’ll find their products and margins will be dragged down with to their levels.
What’s more, it’s a marketplace they won’t win as other players have better low cost models. For instance, no other brand has a successful worldwide chain of branded stores.
The idea driving the netbook push is “Apple can’t justify charging double”. That’s true and there’s no doubt Apple have been overcharging in recent times. So there is room for some price drops.
But cutting prices to meet other people’s price points would be a suicidal move from Cupertino.
A far more sensible strategy is to accept sales are going to drop and focus on their core market, sacrificing a bit of margin won’t hurt either.
Sure, Apple’s profits will take a hit but they’ll still be profitable while their competitors struggle to make pennies on $500 systems.
This is the key to survival in the downturn, not mindlessly slashing your throat to meet artificial price points.
It’s a lesson for all businesses in this economy. Focus on your core market and your margin. Giga Om has a good guide to “competitive differentiation”.