Apple upgrades may win over PC buyers, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
Pro by name and nature
APPLE’S new recruitment drive for Mac is simple.
It wants to lure PC users away from the promise of a Windows 8 future with lower prices, speedy new chips, more memory and a new flagship laptop with the good looks of an iPad, the slender body of a MacBook Air and the power of a professional computer.
The technology giant will even throw an operating system upgrade into the deal for $ 20.99.
Apple’s recruitment drive launched last month at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco and trickled down to Australia, where the Apple Store started taking orders for the ‘‘ new generation’’ MacBook Pro.
Keen pundits were disappointed about a two to three- week wait for the computer.
But analysts say Apple could be on to a winner with the new model and the company’s important hardware upgrades to other computer lines.
Apple worldwide marketing senior vicepresident Phil Schiller announced the computing overhaul late last month, telling a sold- out audience the new laptop line- up was ‘‘ by far the best in the industry’’.
Grabbing headlines is the MacBook Pro with retina display; a new model in the MacBook Pro range that adds more than just extra pixels.
While its new 15.4- inch retina screen has a resolution greater than full high- definition, Apple’s new machine is more focused on portability and power.
It is a quarter thinner than the last MacBook Pro, at just 1.8cm; more than half a kilogram lighter; and its hardware includes a third- generation Intel Core i7 chip and flash storage for more speed, with a substantial 768GB drive possible at highest configuration. The top- of- the- line model ranges in price from $ 2499 to $ 4299, depending on what you add.
Gartner research vice- president Van Baker says the high price of the new MacBook will mean it won’t appeal to all ‘‘ average consumers’’, but it will find an eager audience from ‘‘ photographers, videographers and anyone involved with editing images on a large scale’’.
Baker says Apple’s approach shows the company’s commitment to ‘‘ innovation’’ while other computer makers are focused on cutting prices to appeal to a wider audience.
‘‘ Apple really threw down the gauntlet in terms of a high- performance notebook,’’ he says.
‘‘ The example they showed us is that you can have four HD video streams running inside Final Cut Pro at once.
‘‘ They are innovating and they’re doing it at a time when most others are trying to dive for that $ 699 price point.’’
However, Apple did ditch some common laptop features to achieve the new MacBook Pro’s 1.8cm form.
Both a DVD drive and a wired internet connection are missing from Apple’s new flagship laptop, with both features offered by accessories that cost extra.
Apart from the new addition to its laptop line, Apple kept its upgrades modest, adding new, faster Intel chips and more RAM to MacBook Air and Pro computers, and introducing price cuts up to $ 110 for Australian buyers.
It also quietly excluded the 17- inch MacBook Pro from its line and failed to upgrade its popular iMac range of large- screen desktop computers.
Apple’s upgrade comes at an important time for the computing industry, with sales growth faltering and many consumers holding out for Microsoft’s Windows 8 launch later this year.
PC sales grew just 2.9 per cent in the first three months of 2012.