It is your last chance to do naked shorts of Apple – for two reasons. First, the SEC is working hard to eliminate naked shorts from market trading. Second, Apple will be vulnerable as its stock is skyrocketing towards Fall when the great PC/Laptop/Netbook/Smartphone conflagaration will unfold. But I suspect that after the correction by the end of the year the opportunity will be gone. What is the Fall and Christmas PC/Laptop/Netbook/Smartphone Conflagaration ?
Well, we have already seen the start of it with the downward drift of prices for Smartphones. Next there is the downward pressure on laptop and notebook prices with Netbooks leading the way as Fall prices in the $200 range are on tap [see Infoworld's description of a whole new category of mobile Netbooks]. Yet the the flood of bargain basement laptops continues unabated – see here for $299 machines from Bestbuy and a flock of machines $298 and more from Wal-mart . This Fall there will be a flood of cheap computing from the Laptop and Netbook suppliers including Acer, Asus HP, Dell and Toshiba. And with the availability of Google Android and posssibly Chrome OS the netbooks subsidized by telecos may dip below $100 [with 2 year telco contract] . And a new category of smartbook machine with very fast boot up times [around 10 seconds], long battery life [minimum of 5 to 10 hours], full keyboard, 10″ screen, and 2GHz+2GB core engines [but see cautions from ZDnet here]. In short, there is going to be a huge watershed in personal computing starting in Fall 2009. And the prices seem to be starting at $300US and going down.
Now who is going to prosper?
What vendors and what form factors are going to succeed. Very Cheap and Very Fast and Very Long-batttery life and Very Connected. So lets see how Apple stacks up against the tsunami of very cheap computing power. First question, is Apple Cheap enough? Amazon is currently offering a MacBook mc240LL/A 13.3″ screen with the following feature set:
- 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
- 2 GB of 800MHz DDR2 RAM
- 160 GB 5400RPM Hard Drive, DVD/CD SuperDrive
- Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Operating System
- Advanced GeForce 9400M NVidia Graphics, 13.3 Inch Glossy Display
- Price $961.49
Compare this with $298 for the same basic hardware specs from Wal-mart. As always Apple is the premium price spread because of OS/X, but at 3 times and in the midst of a recssionary down turn….how can Apple Desktop and Notebook sales hold up?
Is MacBook fast – faster than Vista but that is not saying much these days. Boot up time is about 40 seconds according to my Apple friends[30 according to CNET]. Will this be good enough versus the 10 second boot time for NetBooks and Smartbooks ?
Is MacBook a long-lifer? Consensus is not the Apple-claimed 6 hours but around 4 hours – not bad for a laptop but half the Netbook/Smartbook 8 hour life.
Is Apple connected? Yes full Wifi but what about WiMax that is starting to rollout and is getting more attention. Probably but will have to confirm.
Apple Strikes Back
Now in late September Apple is due to have its Netbook/Tablet/MediaCharm ready. But the very good scuttlebut is that this is a)NOT a phone but b)primarily a touchscreen media and game center that will be able to link to the Web. So this any media-center [so long as it is not a phone or Skype-capable] will be charged with protecting MacBooks from the scourge of Netbooks/Smartbooks and iPhones from the incursion of Netbooks and other Smartphones. In short, will this Magic TouchScreen Tablet be able to fill in the slot that cheap PCs, NetBooks and Smartphones-aplenty will be creating. Uhh … I really don’t think so – and so I am really planning to get naked for Apple.