Josh Walls writes:

Will Apple ever make a laptop that costs around $600 or $700? It would make sense, right? Drop the price of a MacBook Air around $300 and people would start buying! I know I would, but $999 just for a MacBook Air that probably costs around $150 to $400 to make (I’m assuming, of course) is way too much for me. Yes, I do know there is a thing called the Mac mini, but I want the feel of a full Mac, much like the default MacBook Pros or iMacs! Thanks for reading!

Will Apple make a cheaper MacBook Air?
Will Apple make a cheaper MacBook Air?

Let me answer that question with a question. Why would Apple need — or want — to do something like that?

The PC market seems to have bottomed out (in comparison to its heyday), and has been filled with cheap devices. Those cheap devices are, well, cheap. Remember: “inexpensive” doesn’t always mean cheap. It’s a balancing act. A company has to keep its lights on, somehow, and if it’s not charging enough to cover its own costs, it’s not going to be able to stand by its products for the long haul. This doesn’t wind up being good for the consumer or the provider.

It’s suggested that users overpay for the hardware components of an average Mac — but this doesn’t speak to the overall build quality of a machine as a whole. The whole is always going to be greater than the sum of its parts. Sure, you can build a Windows-based PC for $300, but you’ll be lucky to get any kind of profit from it if you try to sell it. And, sure, you could build the system for yourself at cost, but when something goes wrong, you’ll have to fix it and pay for any parts that don’t play well with the other parts. I would rather pay for an “expensive” computer as a package deal and be comforted by the knowledge that, if anything goes wrong, I don’t have to pay additional funds to keep it running. Apple charges a premium for its hardware that may seem exorbitant at first glance, but the company also stands by that hardware with legendary customer service.

I understand that $999 may be too much for you, but it certainly hasn’t stopped the company from selling as many computers as it does and becoming the number one premium computer retailer in the world — several years running. If you really want a discounted Mac, you could buy a refurbished unit, an older model, or second-hand Mac and save money that way, but don’t hold your breath with expectations that Apple’s going to go out of its way to be like the other — ultimately less successful — vendors.

Remember, too, that before the $500 iPad, users were accustomed to touch computers at $1,000+ (from vendors other than Apple). Moreover, those other touch computers couldn’t come close to matching the build quality that Apple sported even in the first generation iPad stand. When you look at it that way, Apple provides very affordable — from my point of view, inexpensive — products without being cheap.

Image: Apple by byaditza121 (via Flickr)