Why Exactly Apple Will Announce a MacBook Mini Netbook this January 2009

by Jay Bika on December 16, 2008 · 3 comments

in Apple, Opinion

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The craze over Apple having to launch a Mac netbook has reached new heights because of sales figures showing that in November Apple has lost market share.

All the analysts and pundits are screaming and shouting for a netbook and that’s why in January Apple will give them one.

In a recession, everyone’s sales suffer. Even Walmart is having hard times although logically it should do well given that in hard times more shoppers are likely to pay it a visit for its low prices.

It seems that Apple desktop sales have decreased. You can’t exactly blame the recession for this one. For the last years, laptops have been eclipsing desktops in sales and that’s a trend that’s likely to continue even if the economy recovers by tomorrow afternoon and every single shopper becomes a millionaire.

Apple notebook sales are down too. That’s because no one is immune to a recession. No one. You either lose or you win but nothing stays the same in a recession. The whole computer industry is in a crisis. Every single company has seen sales decrease or stay flat. Apple is not immune.

Apple decided to play the computer game like Sony. Stay in the super premium league. But Steve Jobs did not get where he is now by not having an extraordinary PR acumen. He surely knows that he can stand pat and eventually things will go back to normal once the global crisis ends (because it will eventually. The question is when?). But, he also knows that the media is yearning for a Mac netbook.

In January, he will announce a Mac netbook not because it will boost the sales of Mac products but to appease the media and analysts. You know that the day after the keynote, the stock will go down if there’s no Apple ultraportable notebook. To prevent that from happening, Mr. Jobs will appease the crowd and do what’s smart from a PR perspective.

I personally think that a Mac netbook is not a bad idea. It will not re-ignite sales but it will do the job that the Mac Mini was supposed to do. The Mac Mini did not become a hit because for once Apple made a strategic mistake. It launched an affordable product in a dying category.

Like I mentioned earlier, desktops are slowly but surely on their way out. I am betting that in the near future, desktops will be used only by businesses. Even schools are going all laptops and soon netbooks. Do you still remember who called 2003 the year of the laptop?  Launching the Mac Mini was a smart and a dumb move at the same time. 

Smart because it was aimed at letting people experience the Mac touch for a low price and dumb because it was with desktops.

A MacBook Mini netbook will be a good product not to boost sales but to get all these iPhone and iPod users who are no Mac users to try out the Mac experience. The number one objection for non Mac users is: “It’s cool but it’s expensive!”.

The MacBook Mini netbook solves that problem. In marketing speak, it’s called a loss leader.

I have written before that with netbooks going all cloud, operating systems are going to become the least consideration when buying ultraportables.  Apple will do things right and create an OS that’s actually made for netbooks instead of taking Mac OSX and trying to make it work with netbooks. Imagine MobileMe coupled with other innovative things that are Apple’s trademark.

Apple netbooks will become a hit with the consumer. They will be the ultimate halo effect creator that everyone said that iPhones and iPods would be. That’s because netbooks are actual computers and these new users are more likely to try out Mac computers when they feel the need for more powerful machines. 

The MacBook Mini that will be announced in January will not save Apple in the short-term except for the stock price. In the long-term however, it will the tool that will convert Windows users to Mac en masse. 

And what about that famous quote: “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk”?

Well, he then spoke of “interesting ideas” and another thing. At $500.o1, it’s no longer a piece of junk, right? :)

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