Tuesday, June 14, 2011

MacBook Air Refresh May Advance Apple's iCloud Plans

Industry observers are predicting that Apple plans to refresh its MacBook Air offerings by releasing new models based on the latest chip technologies from Intel. According to media reports, Concord Adams has been advising clients that Apple has already placed orders with its Asia-based component suppliers for 380,000 units to prime the pipeline.

If Apple does refresh its MacBook Air lineup anytime soon, it won't be because of slipping notebook Relevant Products/Services sales. Apple's mobile Relevant Products/Services PC growth in the first quarter was 52 percent, compared with the same quarter last year, and the MacBook Air has been shipping very well since its last refresh, noted Mika Kitagawa, a principal analyst at Gartner Relevant Products/Services.

"We estimated that Air growth was in triple digits in the first quarter of 2011 compared to the first quarter of 2010, when I think some people waited to buy a Mac notebook [so] they could see what iPad Relevant Products/Services looked like," she explained. "But the bottom line is that Apple is doing exceptionally well compared to other PC vendors."

Unifying Devices

A MacBook Air refresh could add the hardware to fully harness the power Relevant Products/Services of Apple's forthcoming Mac OS X Lion, which will have an upgrade price of just $29.99. The low price is part of the company's new strategy to give Mac users access to the iCloud storage Relevant Products/Services capabilities built into the forthcoming iOS 5 platform for mobile devices.

"By Apple having its Mac user base running upgraded software, [this] will expose the Mac base to new features and increase the likelihood they remain on Mac," Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Andrew Murphy said.

Apple plans to leverage the value that consumers will see in having the ability to automatically share contacts, calendars, messages, photos, apps Relevant Products/Services and music purchased on iTunes across all of Apple's devices. The goal is to increase the likelihood that the company's growing base of iPhone and iPad users will end up buying multiple devices from Apple, according to Munster and Murphy.

Moving forward, PCs will no longer be a market by themselves, but part of a larger device market within which consumers and professionals will increasingly use the combination of devices that best suits their particular needs, noted Gartner Research Director Ranjit Atwal. "The key is to deliver applications [and the overall] experience onto the optimal device for the user -- not tie the user to one particular device," Atwal said in an e-mail Monday. (continued...)

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