Remember a time when people still talked about an Apple tax with a straight face? It’s been laughable for years, but with the debut of the iPad, became a self-evident joke: if Apple overprices their hardware, why the heck can’t the competition make an equally specced, sub-$500 tablet?
The disparity between what Apple can make and sell a product for and what the competition can has only grown more pronounced since the debut of the $999 MacBook Air.
It’s such a big disparity that Intel has launched what it calls the UltraBook initiative to help laptop makers release capable MacBook Air competitors… but even with Intel’s help, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that any first-gen UltraBooks will be able to beat the MacBook Air in price.
According to Digitimes:
The sources pointed out that Intel’s ultrabook concept is not a brand new innovation, but a design to allow first-tier notebook players to quickly catch up with Apple’s advances in the ultra-thin segment and help the notebook industry recover from the impact of tablet PCs. The sources pointed out that the new MacBook Airs are priced at about US$999-1,599 with rather strong demand in the US; however, designing an ultrabook based on Intel’s technical suggestions will still be unable to reduce the machine’s price level to lower than the MacBook Air’s unless Intel is willing to reduce its prices, which already account for one-third of the total cost. If Intel does reduce its prices there is a chance for vendors to provide pricing below US$1,000.
So the so-called Apple Tax, in the case of the MacBook Air, is actually an Apple Discount: they’ll sell you a $1299 top-of-the-line ultraportable with unparalleled build construction for $300 cheaper.
Expect this disparity to only get worse as time goes on: Apple’s using its cash hoard to build up a portfolio of future products that the reactionary competition can’t even hope to touch.