Apple drops 12, 15-inch PowerBook prices up to $300

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Apple Monday lowered the prices of its 12 and 15-inch PowerBook G4 models by up to US$300. The 12-inch PowerBook G4 is available from $1,599, a price drop of $200. What's more, Apple's 15-inch PowerBook G4 is now available from $1,999 -- a drop of $300.

Features on the lower-priced PowerBooks remain identical -- the only thing that's been cut is the price. The price of Apple's 17-inch PowerBook G4 remains unchanged at $3,299. Apple vice president of Hardware Product Marketing Greg Joswiak told MacCentral that Apple's price cuts have been designed to feed the momentum of PowerBook sales.

At January's Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs ushered in 2003 as the "Year of the Laptop." Apple's seen great success with the sales of its laptop line, with PowerBooks and iBooks making up 42 percent of the systems sold last quarter.

"We're very proud of that," Joswiak told MacCentral. "We'd like to get to the day where we're selling as many laptop systems as desktops, and we're well on our way to doing that."

Apple's figures compare very favorably to the rest of the personal computer industry, where 25 percent of units sold as laptops is closer to the norm. Apple has consistently outpaced the rest of the PC industry throughout 2001 and 2003, according to Joswiak, with a third of all systems sold as laptops.

The 12 inch aluminum-clad PowerBook G4 was first introduced during Jobs' "Year of the Laptop" keynote speech. It sports a diminutive form factor similar to Apple's consumer and education-oriented iBook, while featuring an 867MHz G4 processor, Nvidia graphics chip, AirPort Extreme wireless networking, and various other amenities expected by professionals looking for a smaller but still-powerful laptop design. The system is available in Combo Drive and SuperDrive configurations, now for $1,599 and $1,799 respectively -- $200 lower than before.

Apple's venerable 15.2-inch display PowerBook G4 continues to be a popular choice for Mac-wielding mobile professionals looking for a machine that's in between the tiny 12-inch and its massive 17-inch cousin. The 15-inch PowerBook G4 sports Combo Drive and SuperDrive variants, with more RAM and hard disk space available on the higher-end configuration. Apple is now selling the 15-inch Combo Drive system for $1,999, or $300 less than before. The SuperDrive system is now available for $2,599, a $200 price drop.

The news of the PowerBook price drops was well-received by market analysts. IDC analyst Roger Kay said that he thought the lower prices on systems would certainly encourage notebook computer purchases. "It's reflecting a shifting mix in Apple's customer demand," Kay told MacCentral.

Apple's customer base is ahead of the PC market when it comes to notebook adoption, according to Apple's own estimates. IDC sees as a general trend in the computer market, as the gaps and performance differences that have traditionally separated desktop and notebook computer sales continue to diminish.

Jupiter's Michael Gartenberg says that Apple's price drop should help continue the push to laptops now that Apple has fed the demands of early adopters.

"The prices put Apple more in line with competitive offerings from the Wintel crowd," Gartenberg told MacCentral.

This article was updated with comments from industry analysts.

This story, "Apple drops 12, 15-inch PowerBook prices up to $300" was originally published by PCWorld.

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