May 7, 2012 at 8:31 PM ET
Both Macs and PCs are supposed to get serious redesigns in 2012, with new MacBook Pros due this summer and dozens of Windows-powered ultrabooks on their way throughout the year. But the MacBook Air is likely to stay the same and lose a few dollars off its price tag.
Digitimes, though known for propagating questionable rumors, seems nevertheless to have hit on a fairly likely event. The MacBook Air has been creeping downward in price since its introduction, replacing the plastic MacBook as the most budget-friendly laptop offered by Apple. It makes sense to continue that trend, And cutting another $200 off the price puts it very near the $699 price at which it is hoped ultrabooks will be offered soon.
With an 11-inch model starting at $799 and a 13-inch model perhaps at $999, that clears the decks between $1000 and $2000 for the new MacBook Pro offerings, which actually (also according to rumor) are scheduled to hit earlier in the year. They're supposed to feature a new Air-like unibody design, though obviously with more hard-hitting specs and bigger screens, which would increase the size and weight.
Apple has already worked hard at capturing the budget side of the market by reducing the prices for iPhones and iPads. Both have "budget" versions for sale, and there are even rumors of an iPad mini that would compete with cheaper Android tablets. Apple is confident in the upper reaches of price, but buyers looking to save money are still opting for PCs and Androids in huge numbers. Apple is already working to crack that market and a MacBook Air for well under a thousand dollars would go a long way towards making that happen.
Devin Coldewey is acontributing writer for msnbc.com. His personal website iscoldewey.cc.