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Monday, May 07, 2012, 04:39 am PT (07:39 am ET)

Rumor: Apple planning to launch $799 MacBook Air in Q3 2012

Apple is rumored to be planning to aggressively combat new "Ultrabook" laptops coming to market by releasing a $799 MacBook Air model in the third quarter of 2012, a price $200 less than the company's current cheapest model.

The claim came on Monday from the sometimes reliable DigiTimes, which cited sources in Apple's upstream supply chain. Apple's plans are reportedly to counter second-generation Ultrabooks, based on Intel's specifications for thin and light notebooks, which PC makers hope to price around $699.

If PC makers are unable to reach the $699 price point with their second-generation Ultrabooks, Apple could have a significant competitive advantage with an aggressive $799 price point for a new MacBook Air, the report claims.

Currently, Apple's cheapest notebook option is the 11.6-inch MacBook Air, which is priced at $999 and comes with a 64-gigabyte solid-state hard drive. Apple also offers a stripped-down 13-inch MacBook Air for education buyers only for $999.

Last month, it was said that Intel hopes to see shipments of as many as 30 million Ultrabooks this year. The company designed the Ultrabook specification after Apple found great success with its new MacBook Air, which features only solid-state storage, instant-on capabilities, and super-thin design thanks to the lack of an optical drive.

MacBook Air


Apple is expected to begin revamping its Mac lineup in the coming weeks with Intel's latest-generation Ivy Bridge processors. The product makeover is expected to begin with new MacBook Pros, starting with a 15-inch model, that will also rely on solid-state storage and lose an optical drive, taking design cues from the MacBook Air.

Prior to Monday's report, little has been said of a new MacBook Air lineup, with most rumors focusing on Apple's next MacBook Pros. In fact, one report even suggested that Apple could merge the two product lines, "effectively killing the Pro" and having all of its notebooks like MacBook Airs.