Apple may introduce cheaper computers in an attempt to grow its market share, according to sources of AppleInsider.
"People familiar with the matter" say the move is an interim solution to combat the popularity of netbooks, cheap, underpowered computers for which the premium company has previously expressed disdain. Apple has been rumored to be preparing a web tablet.
According to the sources, Apple still has no interest in catering to the netbook market as it exists today. But the move may help the company in a difficult economic climate: Apple recently announced that Mac units contracted by 3 percent in the first quarter of 2009. According to AppleInsider, market research firm Gartner estimated that the company's share of the U.S. PC market slipped 10 basis points to 7.4 percent.
The move is an atypical short-term move from the traditionally long-term company. The difficulty, of course, is managing its "premium" reputation with ubiquity and a lower price tag.
So what can consumers look forward to? AppleInsider says cheaper versions of the 13-inch MacBook (which starts at $1,299 for the latest generation) and iMac, both the most popular Macs in terms of sales.
Apple earlier this month quietly began offering educational institutions a 2GHz, 20-inch aluminum iMac for $899. So it's certainly possible to offer cheaper, still-powerful systems and preserve the company's comfortable margins.
AppleInsider reports that more affordable Macs could turn up as early as this spring.