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Apple iMac  (Source: Apple)

MacBook 13"  (Source: Apple)
Cuts are reportedly in store, both first desktop and laptop lines

Faced with slumping sales and stinging criticism from competitor Microsoft over its high prices, Apple is reportedly going to try a price cut to spur its computer sales.  While Apple's general sales have been saved by its iPhone, its computer sales, both for laptops and desktops have slumped.  It is still earning more profit than some competitors thanks to large profit margins, but as losses continue, the company is becoming increasingly concerned.

Apple-specific blog Apple Insider reports that "people who’ve proven extremely reliable in predicting Apple’s future business directions" have let slip that Apple will cut the prices of its most popular desktop and laptop models -- the iMac and the 13 in. MacBook.

The sources say that the move is not an attempt to counter Microsoft's new "Laptop Hunter" ads, but rather is an effort to keep up with netbook sales, which are driving down PC prices.  Apple has no intention of deploying a netbook Mac.  As CEO Steve Jobs put it, "We don't know how to make a $500 computer that's not a piece of junk."

However, the company is looking to possibly deploy a web or media tablet, according to reports.  Steve Jobs himself is reportedly working on the device, which may or may not be the tablet rumored to be coming to the Verizon network as a Wi-Fi phone.

According to the report on the pricing changes, the changes could land in a month or two.  Writes the site, "
It’s believed that the first batch of more affordable Macs could turn up as early as this spring as part of a restructured MacBook line, while MacBook Pros for the most part would stay their course and benefit slightly from Intel’s planned Montevina refresh, which should nudge clock speeds."

Analysts believe that a permanent price cut is more likely than a discount.  States Ezra Gottheil, an Apple-focused analyst at Technology Business Research, "I think the price resistance they’re experiencing isn’t a matter of, 'If it were $100 cheaper I would buy it,' it’s a matter of, 'You don’t have a PC in the $600 range.'  The sort of thing where they say, ‘Now the base MacBook is $100 less,’ is quite conceivable."

However, there is also skepticism over whether some of the cuts will occur at all.  States Gottheil, "The iMacs, however, they just refreshed. I think they’d be cutting their margins thinner they wanted to, if they were to reduce those.."




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