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Save the Date: Apple to Reveal New Macbooks Next Week

apple notebooksWhen Apple hinted at a new product release by September in July’s earnings call, many followed the trail of bread crumbs to the conclusion new Macbooks were coming.  The notebook computers were overdue for a makeover, they reasoned.  It was time. So as the launch day grew closer, the Applevine grew louder with more rumors, theories and predictions.  Some speculated new internals, new chips, maybe even from PA Semi Conductor.  Other’s predicted a redesigned aluminum case and a sleeker profile to match the design of the Macbook Air.   As it turned out, it was all false positives.   None of the rumors were right.  Apple’s September product announcements were musical: new iPods and iTunes.    Now, a month later, the Macbooks are finally poised to get their update too.

Apple sent out press invitations Thursday.  The caption read “The spotlight turns to notebooks.”

As is always the case, the Applevine is buzzing with predictions.  The top call, and odds on favorite, seems to be the introduction of a sub-$1000 notebook.

According to a report by Duncan Riley published at, price lists have been distributed to retailers that indicate there will be 12 Sku’s in the new notebook line.  They will range in price from $800 to $3100.

If true, the pricing would create Apple’s first sub- $1000 notebook, and the most affordable Macbook to date.   In the current economic climate, there’s some basis for hoping that might offset some of the potential impact from otherwise weakening retail sales (though it may not be enough).  Already, several analysts have expressed concern that both consumer and commercial sales will diminish significantly.

Apple’s fourth quarter results are probably going to be ok but first quarter fiscal 2009 results? Those are going to be affected, it’s just a question of how much.

Two recent Changewave surveys seem to support that view. In an August survey of nearly 2000 IT staffers, Changewave found the number of IT buyers expecting to buy laptops in the next quarter had declined to the lowest level in 18 months. Apple laptop and desktop shares were both off 1 pt from highs reported in Changewave’s May survey.(And the August survey was conducted prior to the current market meltdown). 

A September survey of 4,262 consumers led to a similar result. According to Changewave: "Among respondents who plan to buy a PC over the next 90 days, just 29% [said] they’ll purchase an Apple laptop – down a full 5-pts since August. Another 26% say they plan to buy a desktop, a 4-pt decline." Further, the survey reports: "overall planned PC buying among consumers remains quite weak. Just 8% of respondents say they’ll buy laptops in the next 90 days and 6% desktops – significantly below our findings from a year ago."

The Mac accounted for 61 percent of Apple’s total revenue in Q3. During the quarter, Apple shipped 2,496,000 Macs, a 41% unit increase and 43% revenue increase year over year.  Breaking out the categories: desktops accounted for 943k of the total.  Laptops accounted for 1,553,000. (Apple Q3 data sheet PDF)

With such a large contribution to revenue, the stakes are high.

The invitation-only press event will be held in Cupertino at 10am pst on October 14th.

Rumors of other changes remain all over. Details will be here next week.

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