The MacBook Release - Strategic and Just In Time

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By: switchtoamac at: 11:52 AM on May 17, 2006 | Comments (0)
The May 16, 2006 release of the Apple MacBook was strategic and just in time.  In my view, it was in Apple's best interest to have it released as soon as possible as it would provide Apple an additional line of Intel Macs available for sale.  This is especially important in light of Apple's recent launch of the "Get a Mac" advertising campaign.  The MacBooks give Apple an expanded product line just a few weeks after initiating the campaign.

In context, Apple has to satisfy Wall Street's expectations and projections.  The best and safest way to accomplish this would be to announce a new Intel based Mac model each of the next two quarters.  The reasons would be two fold.  The first would be to capitalize on unit sales on a quarterly basis.  Secondly, it would allow Apple to have consistent Mac unit sales on a quarter-to-quarter basis.  Apple would be best suited to "play it safe" to demonstrate to Wall Street and investors that it has consistent Mac unit sales quarter-to-quarter.  A huge spike in sales in one quarter followed by a quarter in which unit sales drop would look questionable.  Wall Street prefers to see consistency and growth, not spikes and fluctuations.  That's why the timing of the MacBook release was so important.  Let's not forget that many buyers have been holding off on iBook purchases as they have awaited the release of an Intel based notebook.  Rumors were hitting the wires for weeks that the MacBook release was imminent.  The delay was well orchestrated by Apple.  Not only did it fuel the hype and anticipation, but it also provided Apple the opportunity to ramp-up production and build an inventory of MacBooks.  Apple was likely positioning themselves to avoid repeating the MacBook Pro supply-demand problem that occured after the MacBook Pro was announced in January 2006.

The MacBook release prior to end of the academic year should also drive sales from education customers.  Orders from this segment should be strong as people will want to get their orders in prior to the end of the academic year, especially those who are graduating and will not be eligible for the education discount after they leave school.  Furthermore, potential switchers who have been waiting for a consumer Intel based Mac notebook will now make their purchases.  Taking these issues into account and combining them with the buzz and indications of great sales yesterday, I expect sales of the MacBook to be quite strong.

My expectations on future Mac releases are as follows:

  • PowerMac replacement will be announced next fiscal quarter which runs from July to September
  • iMac and MacBook Pro updates prior to the 2006 Holiday Shopping Season

I expect iMac and MacBook Pro revisions for two reasons.  The first is that Apple will want to have new models available prior to the holiday season; new models would be good marketing plain and simple.  Second, the Intel based iMacs and MacBook Pros announced in January are referred to by Apple as "Early 2006".  This simple naming scheme would indicate that revisions later in 2006 are likely.  Examples include the Apple docs that refer to the Firmware updates for MacBook Pro and iMac.

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