NY Times: Will Apple CEO Steve Jobs debut sub-$500 Mac or maybe something else?

“In what might be the next episode in Silicon Valley’s longest-running soap opera, Apple Computer’s chairman, Steven P. Jobs, is planning to surrender to the computer industry’s received wisdom and introduce a sub-$500 Macintosh, according to several published reports,” John Markoff writes for The New York Times. “So much for ‘Think Different.'”

“In the past Apple has stood alone, insisting that its software and industrial design continue to command a premium from computer users willing to stray from the Windows and Intel computing standard. Is that era about to end? The answer will come during Mr. Jobs’s keynote presentation at Macworld, which will take place here Jan. 11 at the Moscone Convention Center. And in what has become a tradition for Mr. Jobs, speculation has heightened expectations far beyond what surrounds any other technology industry executive,” Markoff writes.

“If Mr. Jobs is now actually preparing to plunge into the Best Buy and Circuit City world of razor-thin consumer electronics margins, he would finally be paying heed to the industry pundits who have repeatedly claimed during the seven years since he returned to run Apple Computer that the company was doomed by its higher-priced computers,” Markoff writes. “The reasoning goes as follows: Having tricked the computer industry into believing that Apple was on the verge of becoming a digital music company on the strength of its wildly popular iPod music player, Mr. Jobs will suddenly reverse ground and begin selling a new iPod peripheral – a cheap Mac desktop – to the legions of PC owners who have eagerly purchased iPods but so far have failed to switch to the more costly Mac computer world.”

“It would be a nifty jujitsu move that would finally lure the millions of PC owners who have lusted for a Mac, but have until now stuck with the Chevrolet-like price tags of Windows-based PC’s. ‘Apple wasn’t building market share because of the switching costs,’ said Charles Wolf, a financial analyst at Needham & Company, a New York investment firm. ‘It’s such a logical move,'” Markoff writes. “[But], if Steve Jobs is really thinking differently on Jan. 11, it would make more sense that, instead of cost-cutting, he is counting on his proven ability to create new markets seemingly from whole cloth. Having successfully connected the music world and the computer worlds with the iPod, Mr. Jobs may have his sights on extending Apple in other new directions – perhaps a high-priced set-top box – rather than looking backwards. He has worked his magic in Hollywood before and would have the credibility to strike an alliance that might permit Apple to deliver movies and video to some sort of elegant digital home server.”

Full article here.

28 Comments

  1. “Unless a cheap Macintosh is artfully crippled, many existing Apple customers might decide to scale down instead of scaling up. “

    This guy obviously doesn’t know the Mac market!
    I have yet to find a mac user who would scale down… aren’t we always waiting for the next best thing to be released?

  2. ptos #2

    i reeeeeeeeeeeeealy want to see a $500 mac, i have an aunt who needs a new computer, and sees that macs are better, but she can’t afford one. so if apple doesn’t drop the price, back into peecee land she will go.

  3. it looks to me that Steve Jobs is trying to capture market share while he can

    remember what he said on y apple almost failed during the early 90s?

    apple should have been trying to capture market share then

    i don’t think hes gonna repeat the same mistakes twice

  4. i really don’t think a headless imac will appear…a “digital server” is what i see comming. Jobs had said in the past that Apple is looking to make this happen.

    I mean, a headless imac = emac without the screen attached to a third party monitor….give me a break.

    what apple trully needs to do is to bring down prices on ALL there models

  5. Anyone who thinks that Macs are too expensive is living in the past. The eMac and the iBook are very competitive with PCs selling at similar price-points. PCs in general last for less time than Macs, and are upgraded more often. Mac users get the better long-term value for what they pay.

    I really do not want people to say “Macs are slow” and use the underpowered cheap-Mac as an example. If this $500 Mac exists it should be something to connect and use with a television. For $500 I do not expect the hardware to do much more than iTunes and iPhoto. Just plug in your iPod and digital camera and browse the files on the hard drive with a remote control.

  6. News news, give me news. This has been the first bit of “news” in two days…. I’m hanging out here. It’s Macworld time and there’s been nothing much over the weekend to drool over.

    Ok, seriously, I agree with Sol. Mac’s are well priced. Perhaps the desktops are a bit expensive at first glance. But once you compare a PC with all the extras Apple’s include, including bundled software, a PC isn’t all that much cheaper. Or put another way, it’s not worth the money saved.

    The only issue with Apple is they take their sweet time in adding certain variants of the latest hardware to their systems… eg. dual layer burners is the current “missing” but “must have” item when spending $3K on a computer. It’s funny, because they do include other things like wireless, firewire or network ports as standard issue, in some cases years before PC manufacturers did.

  7. Apple can’t shoot themselves in the foot by
    adding a headless Macintosh to thier current
    line of computers.

    The eMac is a GREAT and affordable answer for any
    customer to get acquainted with Apple, Macs, and
    OS X.

    Next thing they’ll be crying for is a disposable Mac…

    Imagine that…<�> –^

    Furthermore…what about all those iMacs and iBooks?

    In other words…this kind of move could trigger a
    drastic change in Apple’s current direction…
    stockholders won’t be thrilled, I’m betting.

    Unless it’s a limited edition, but that would just
    be a big tease. I vote NO!

    ::plop:: ::plop::
    ::fizz:: :fizz:: Oh what a relief it is

    Out of the wasteland

    CT

  8. I’VE GOT IT….!!!!!!!

    I KNOW WHAT “IT” IS!!!!!!

    The big announcement is a 2 button mouse with a scroll wheel….

    ….attached to a $599 headless G4 Mac

    ….. AND a $200 small flatsceen entry level monitor thats been missing from the Mac lineup since the 17″ was discontinued…maybe even a 15″ widescreen entry level – leaving the expensive 20″ monitor for the G5 desktop clients.

    …AND THAT’S ALL FOLKS!

  9. If the modular low end Mac rumor is true I personally don’t think it will canabalize sales of higher end Macs to the Mac Faithful that much. Personally I would consider buying one as an extra computer (especially if it functions as a media center as speculated) but would never have it as my “main squeeze”. Where I get really excited about a low end Mac is to be able to “switch” people into the light with it. I have a lot of friends who are interested in getting a Mac but the price point is a bit of a sticking area for them. AND we all know, that once they drink the Koolaid a LOT of them are gonna want to get a better Mac in the future. I think it would work well business wide for them. Apple is on a roll and if ever the time was right for this kind of product, now is it.

  10. I really hope the introduce a sub $500 Mac because I really need a new computer. I’ve been looking at an eMac ComboDrive, but a headless Mac would be even better. Being strapped for cash, having all OSX software, and needing a new Mac isnt good. I don’t care about having an LCD or anything, I don’t mind getting a CRT from NEC or another company, considering most good CRTs have better color gammuts than even the best LCDs.

  11. Why not just skip the mouse altogether and use
    pure voice recognition…ah, what the heck… throw
    away the keyboard too and say goodbye to physical
    education.

    I mean it would be an option (not required)…
    comb your hair, do deep knee bends…
    the posibilities are astounding! No more messy
    peripheral cleanups…it COULD happen…eventually.

    Easier said than done…

    CT

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