Apple are missing the opportunity of a lifetime right now. It’s one of those gaps in the market which means they could not only boost their share in the market, but potentially overtake Microsoft, all in one fell swoop.
I’ll explain why, with a question.
Would you buy a $100 MacBook?
I’m betting there’s a resounding chorus of “Hell Yes!!” to that, but it’s a product I doubt we’ll see anytime soon. Just imagine it though – a low-cost, low-spec entry into the world of Apple, complete with their gorgeous Operating System and design. Give it 512Mb memory and at least a 40Gb hard drive and it’ll run out of the door by the millions.
It’s more than possible too, with much smaller companies showing time and again that they can build a decent mini-laptop designed primarily for ‘net surfing. This could be a first laptop for new users or a backup machine for travellers. It would serve as an entry point for further buy-ins to the Apple brand, allowing existing Windows users a chance to test the interface without a $1,200 price tag. Heck, folks would buy three and leave them laying around the house. Add in decent wifi and a streaming server and you’ve the perfect one-company solution to all your music, video and content needs.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping folks buying an Elonex One or eeePC instead, or trawling eBay for an older MacBook bargain, but Apple could provide an off-the-shelf system for everyone – including that all important non-techhead market.
Y’see, Apple have two things that the other companies don’t: Brand Name, and Distribution Channels.
Thanks primarily to the iPod, everyone knows Apple. It’s a brand that’s perceived as trustworthy, and that counts for a heck of a lot. People will buy an Apple One (picking a name at random) laptop confident that it’ll just work. That’s less likely with a brand they’re less familiar with. In other words, only people who have an Elonex One will recommend one. But everyone will recommend an Apple One, because it’s Apple. Brand Trust.
On the next point, I don’t think there’s a city on the planet where you can’t buy an Apple product from a real, life, honest to goodness store. In my nearest home town I can count at least 2 stores that have them on the shelf ready and waiting. They’re a large-scale brand with large-scale distribution channels meaning there’s none of that risk-and-wait of online purchasing from a smaller supplier. The Apple One (the name is growing one me) would be a non-tech purchase – perfect even for grandparents to buy their kids at birthday time. The consumer level white-label laptop brand. Perfect.
But here’s the crunch. I don’t think it’ll ever happen, though I’d love to be proven wrong. Apple are setting themselves as a “premium” brand (at least, when it comes to computers – the iPod is stupid cheap for the quality). The MacBook Air is gorgeous, but it’s also vastly over-priced and under-specced. Shave $400 off the price and it would be great. As it is…… no, thank you.
A $100 MacBook would kick ass, seriously.
What you think?