By Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ben Charny
OCTOBER 10, 2008
Apple Inc. next week is expected to unveil new laptop computers -- including a model that sets a new low price point for the company -- as it sets its sights on one of the fastest-growing categories in the business.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company issued invitations to media and analysts on Thursday for an event Tuesday that indicated the event would focus on its portable Macintosh line. The invitation shows a single spotlight on the company's logo on a notebook computer.
An Apple spokesman declined to provide further details, but the company is widely expected to unveil new versions of its MacBook and MacBook Pro notebook computers, including a model that would be priced below $1,000 for the first time.
Some analysts are expecting the laptops to start at less than $800, compared with $1,099 now.
That would bring Apple closer in line with the rest of the industry, which is aggressively cutting prices.
If Apple unveils more affordable laptops as expected, it could give investors much needed confidence in the stock, which has recently fallen to levels few would have expected it to reach just a few months ago. The stock has shed about 25% since Sept. 26 on worries that slowdowns in the North American and European economies are finally beginning to affect even Apple.
Though Apple took the word computer out of its name, Macintosh computers are still crucial to the company's business. In the quarter ended in June, computer revenue grew 43% from the previous year to $3.6 billion. Notebook sales accounted for 61% of that, growing 42% from a year earlier.
Apple's sales could still be hurt by the economic slowdown because it relies on the U.S. and Western Europe -- some of the most troubled markets -- for the bulk of its sales.