Apple: The cheaper alternative?

Is Apple becoming the cheaper alternative to competitors? Don Reisinger thinks it's happening, and he couldn't be happier because of it.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
3 min read

I can't believe what I'm reading. All across the Web, reporters are saying that at Apple's press event next week, the company will unveil an $800 Mac to appeal to those looking to spend less on an Apple computer.

Anyone who has followed Apple since its inception knows that the very idea that Apple could actually compete on the same level as its competitors on price is a shocker. For years, the company has wanted to be considered a boutique vendor that doesn't submit to price leadership to sell units.

Steve Jobs went out of his way to create good-looking devices with a unique experience so he wouldn't have to charge less for his computers and it worked like a charm.

Mac sales have never been higher, and it's quickly becoming apparent that people are more than willing to spend the additional cash to own a Mac. And yet, the rumors that Apple will sell an $800 Mac simply won't go away.

Now, I'm a firm believer that Apple should start lowering its prices to appeal to more consumers and take the fight to Hewlett-Packard and Dell, but if Apple's plan next week is to offer cheaper Macs, I can't help but wonder if this is Apple's new strategy going forward.

I think it is.

Remember when we all made a fuss over how high the price of the original iPhone was? Do you remember when we all rejoiced as Apple announced that the lower-end iPhone would retail for $199?

And if you look at the iPod, now you can spend as little as $49 for the iPod Shuffle, $149 for an iPod Nano, and $229 for the iPod Touch. And just in case you want an Apple TV, the entry-level price of $229 isn't too bad for a set-top box with that kind of functionality.

Do you see what I'm getting at here? Apple is quickly becoming a company that offers high-quality products at a relatively affordable price. And if it decides to sell a Mac for $800, I don't think there's any debating the fact that Jobs has decided to change his company's business model.

And what a change that would be. As I mentioned, Apple is a boutique vendor on a number of levels and has decided that it would rather offer products for a higher price than play the pricing game. But as economic conditions change and people need to think more about their wallets than they may have over the past few years, Apple feels it needs to change its course and compete more effectively against HP and Dell.

Will it work? I can guarantee that it will. But what will it do to Apple's image? As long as the company continues providing high-quality products that easily eclipse the competition, I don't think it will have anything to worry about on that front either.

Apple's decision to offer a cheaper Mac is a smart one. But it goes beyond a cheaper product. In reality, Apple is now a changed company that will compete on price. And it's because of that that its competitors should be scared.

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