Bob Snow emailed me his thoughts on the new MacBooks, and the economy in general.
This week, Apple made a great industrial design statement while going somewhat off-track into a recessionary economy. Let me clarify. The high margin MacBook Pro computers are great. Super industrial design and superior graphics capabilities make these machines a home run. If you dwell among the higher echelons of mobile users, this was nothing but good news. The glass screen and glass clickable trackpad are wonder designs. Unibody is just too cool. For the price, this may be the best mobile Mac since the TiBook.
Now, if you are just a regular old MacBook person or a student with little prospect of a job at graduation, this is more of a mixed bag. Ante up a bit more cash and an all aluminum MacBook with much of the panache of the Pro machine's is yours. I think the new MacBooks may be the best deal around. BUT, the problem is this. We are in a serious economic situation which will probably lead people to buy the most horrendous US$500 laptop imaginable, simply because it costs US$500, period, end of story.
Apple has pretty much dedicated one legacy machine to this exploding market. Leftover white, plastic MacBooks can be purchased for US$999 for the low end. An orphan for just under a thousand. I see a big divide between a loss leader based on old technology and an upgraded, up-priced machine that is wonderful, but just too expensive for this distressed market. This is what happens when the folks in charge just don't get it.
There is a nightmare scenario brewing with a mix of credit distress and retail plunge. The next shoe is about to drop in the world of banking catastrophes. The banks left standing are now the consumer debt powerhouses in the wake of the real estate meltdown. Look at the banks of record on your credit card stash. These are the next to fall.
I agree with Bob that Apple is completely ignoring the current economic strife. The problem is that notebooks like the new MacBook are designed years in advance. There's almost no chance that Apple could have predicted our current economic meltdown, but they could have planned a little better.
I was overjoyed at the prospect of a US$800 MacBook when that rumor surfaced and it would have been exactly what the market needed – and it would have sold by the bushel. Instead Apple (once again) ignored the low-end and released a premium-priced notebook, when an economy-priced notebook is needed. Sure, some people will buck up for the shiny, new MacBooks but I have a feeling like most people will pass.