How Updated MacBooks Are a Better Value for You and for Apple
In a Tuesday press release, Apple announced that it was updating the MacBook Pro with Retina Display line with faster processors, doubled memory in entry-level models, and a lower price for the top-of-the-line 15-inch notebook. Apple also dropped the starting price of the non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro by $100 to $1,099 and doubled the standard RAM of the entry-level 13-inch model to 8 GB, offering what represents a significant discount over the prices previously charged for the same specifications.
The move sees the company updating three 13-inch models and two 15-inch models. Those models gain Intel’s newest i5 and i7 Haswell processors, with the entry-level 13-inch model coming standard with a 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5 chip and 8 GB of memory, an improvement over the previous 2.4 GHz i5 chip and 4 GB of memory. The memory of the entry-level 15-inch model doubled from 8 GB to 16 GB, and the processor was upgraded from 2.0 GHz to 2.2 GHz. The press release explains the changes and the different configurations that are available for each model:
“The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory, 128GB of flash storage and Intel Iris graphics starting at $1,299 (US); with a 2.6 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel Iris graphics starting at $1,499 (US); and with a 2.8 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 8GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage and Intel Iris graphics starting at $1,799 (US). Configure-to-order options include faster dual-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 3.0 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.5 GHz, up to 16GB of memory and flash storage up to 1TB.”
The press release continues:
“The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is available with a 2.2 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.4 GHz, 16GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel Iris Pro graphics starting at $1,999 (US); and with a 2.5 GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.7 GHz, 16GB of memory, 512GB of flash storage, and Intel Iris Pro and NVIDIA GeForce GT 750M graphics starting at $2,499 (US). Configure-to-order options include faster quad-core Intel Core i7 processors up to 2.8 GHz with Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.0 GHz and flash storage up to 1TB.
“The 13-inch MacBook Pro is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 4GB of memory, Intel HD Graphics 4000 and a 500GB hard drive starting at $1,099 (US).”
Tuesday’s updates are in keeping with Apple’s strategy so far this year to place a focus on value. As Apple Insider reports, in April, Apple boosted the processors of its MacBook Air models by 100 megahertz but dropped their price by $100 to a starting cost of $899 for an 11.6-inch notebook. The new MacBook Air models are the most affordable notebook that Apple has ever offered consumers, and Apple followed up that milestone with the June debut of a new, entry-level model of the iMac, priced at $1,099, which is $200 less expensive than the previous entry-level model.
With that June launch and the other updates that Apple has made to its Mac lineup, the company was met with disappointment and criticism from those expecting higher-end, more advanced offerings. However, Apple Insider says that Mac sales were up 17.6 percent in the June quarter, when Apple debuted the new iMac model and MacBook Air lineup — it was also the three-month period when Apple sold a record 4.4 million units. Lower prices and better value are clearly Apple’s strategy to drive sales among average consumers, rather than those who are waiting for the next generation of Macs to be introduced.
The updates come in the middle of Apple’s back-to-school promotion, which it will continue through September 9, and also several months ahead of the launch of the 11th consumer version of Mac OS X. OS X 10.10, or Yosemite, will be offered as a free system update, so that consumers who buy a new Mac now will get Yosemite for free. The new operating system offers not only a visual redesign, but also increased functionality in connection with iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, so that users will be able to answer calls, as an example, on any of those devices, including the Mac.
While tech enthusiasts and power users are likely waiting for the next generation of Macs, which will run Intel’s Broadwell chips but might not be available until 2015, Apple is betting that its June quarter momentum will continue. In that quarter, the general consumer saw lower prices and better value, and decided not to wait to purchase a new Mac.
As Apple places a new focus on affordability — at least as the market defines affordability for its premium products — it will look to continue to drive demand with incremental upgrades and price cuts. The company stands to benefit not only by selling more Macs, but also by getting more consumers into the Apple ecosystem, since consumers who use a Mac often use iOS devices. Especially as consumers anticipate the pairing of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, that ecosystem seems more capable and more valuable, and better specifications at better prices make Macs a better deal, which is a win for both consumers and Apple.