Apple Inc. (AAPL) Gets Aggressive

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Not even mighty Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is immune to the PC doldrums of late. This was particularly evident when Apple reported its fiscal first quarter results last month and Mac sales were far weaker than expected. Most of this shortfall was primarily due to the redesigned iMac supply constraints that Tim Cook had warned investors about in October, but MacBook units were also down.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) no longer discloses its Mac product mix as it had done in the past, but Cook did say that laptops alone were “in line with IDC’s projections of market growth.” Translation: MacBook units were down approximately 6%. That puts MacBook units in the neighborhood of 3.5 million during the busy December quarter.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display was introduced during the quarter, and reviews widely panned it as overpriced since the notebook started at $1,699, which put the Retina model at a $400 price premium relative to the standard 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Retina display.

That was until Apple got aggressive today.

That was quick
In a surprise move, Apple has reduced prices on numerous MacBooks while giving some models incremental processor spec bumps. The most significant change was pricing for the 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros, with the entry-level model getting a $200 price drop.

Configuration Previous Price New Price Price Reduction
Standard entry-level $1,699 $1,499 $200
Standard high-end $1,999 $1,699 $300

Source: Apple.

The high-end model is also getting a slightly faster Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) processor. Rapid price reductions and performance improvements are simply a fact of life in the high-flying world of technology, but this particular model is getting a price drop less than four months after launch — much faster than usual.

The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros received no price changes, but did receive processor speed bumps. The 13-inch MacBook Air with 256 GB of flash storage received a price reduction down to $1,399.

That’s what he said
This move comes just one day after Cook spoke at the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) Technology and Internet Conference, and specifically mentioned that the company is “making moves to make things more affordable.” Analyst Bill Schope was initially asking about the possibility of a more affordable iPhone, but Cook expanded the discussion to include a wider range of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) products such as the iPod. Obviously, he had MacBooks in mind, also.

While price reductions may put downward pressure on average selling prices, they’ve already been on a longer-term decline, which is expected in this industry.

Source: SEC filings. Calendar quarters shown.

The third quarter was the last time that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) broke out its Mac product mix between laptops and desktops.

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