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Apple cuts prices, offers rebates

Having transformed the Macintosh market, Apple is now slashing prices on some notebook and desktop computers by as much as $1,000.

    Having transformed the Macintosh market, Apple Computer (AAPL) is now slashing prices on some notebook and desktop computers by as much as $1,000 and offering rebates on some printers and imaging devices.

    Apple's price cuts on PowerBook notebooks come as it makes way for updated systems with the recently announced PowerPC 750 processor, and the company is also cutting prices on high-end desktop computers, as reported earlier by CNET's NEWS.COM.

    The PowerBook 3400/240 with a 240-MHz PowerPC 603e processor will get a price cut of $1,000, or 18 percent, from $5,499 to $4,499. The 3400 is Apple's high-end notebook computer.

    Apple also dropped prices on a number of Power Macintosh 8600 computers, which are targeted at scientific and content creator markets. For example, a Power Macintosh 8600/200 with a 100MB Zip drive is priced at $2,200, a reduction of $800.

    Apple price cuts
    CPU Old price New price
    PowerBook
    3400c/180
    $4,000
    $3,200
    3400c/200
    $4,500
    $3,800
    3400c/240
    $5,500
    $4,500
    Power Macintosh
    8600/200/Zip drive
    $3,000
    $2,200
    8600/250/Zip drive
    $3,200
    $2,600
    8600/300/Zip drive
    $3,700
    $3,100
    8600/300
    $3,600
    $3,000

    The company also announced a rebate plan on a separate Web site. Apple will offer rebates of up to $500 on Apple printers, digital cameras, and scanners when purchased with new Mac systems and up to $250 when the items are purchased separately.

    Earlier this year, Dataquest reported that it believes Apple could enjoy a strong upswing in sales late in 1997 as users of the first Power Macintosh machines released in 1994 upgrade to newer systems.

    Notebook users, for example, will be see a new PowerBook introduced at the end of the month which employs the new PowerPC 750 processor. The new notebook will have a 250-MHz PowerPC 750, which is expected to offer a new level of performance above and beyond the 240-MHz 603e currently used in the 3400/240.

    However, these users will be purchasing in a Macintosh market that will be without two major competitors by year's end--Motorola and Power Computing--which spawned concern that elimination of major clone vendors would result in an Apple lacking incentive to reduce prices.

    Apple says it is making moves to keep its systems price competitive with comparable offerings from Umax as well as Windows-based PC vendors.

    "Over time, we're going to simplify our product line even compared to what we have today. We'll have notebook products that share components, desktops that share components, and price points that go into the low $1,000 range even," says Mitch Mandich, senior vice president, Apple Americas.

    In the past, Apple has sold systems with components such as CD-ROMs that weren't used by other vendors, and thus were more expensive to procure, Mandich says. Also, when there were not enough of these specialized components available, Mac systems were delayed, causing customer frustration. Mandich says that forthcoming systems designs will help Apple deliver products in a more timely fashion, as well as help lower overall costs.

    Other moves the company is making include free support for customers at a special Web site and from an automated phone response system "to more closely mirror Microsoft's" support program, the company said in a statement. Free phone support for the first 90 days of ownership will be offered, but after that, support calls will cost $35 per call, just like Microsoft.