Is this the Apple netbook?

Rumors are swirling about the sole surviving plastic Macbook. It's too popular to kill off, so Apple's readying an updated version: cheaper, lighter, and great for Snow Leopard. Just don't call it a netbook. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers try not to.

By Richi Jennings. August 26, 2009.

(AAPL)

Your humble blogwatcher has selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention where baby pigs come from...

Kasper Jade hears the whispers:

Once rumored for extinction, Apple's entry-level polycarbonate MacBooks are on the verge of a refresh that will solidify them at the base of the Mac maker's notebook offerings for the foreseeable future. ... The 13-inch portables are presently undergoing an industrial design overhaul that will see them reemerge in the coming months with a slimmer, lighter enclosure and restructured internal architecture.

...

The white MacBook is outselling all other [portable] Macs. ... Sales of the sub-$1000 system have remained surprisingly brisk amid the economic crunch, leaving management little choice but to allocate R&D expenses in its favor. ... Apple is well-positioned to begin offering a model at considerable discount to the $999 entry-level model that exists today.
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Chris Foresman can't resist:

The lonely white polycarbonate MacBook that still remains in Apple's otherwise all-aluminum notebook lineup hasn't changed significantly over the years. ... Apple would likely use lower-end Core 2 Duo chips from Intel and could likely ditch the FireWire ports. We wouldn't be surprised to see Apple dump the optical drive too, adding further cost and weight savings, nor would it be unusual if Apple designed in a non-removeable battery. (Heck, throw in a physically smaller screen, and you'd pretty much have yourself an Apple netbook.)

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With nearly 60 percent of back-to-school shoppers looking to spend less than $750 on a new laptop, though, shaving a couple hundred bucks off the MacBook might make even more students and budget shoppers lean towards a Mac instead of a Windows- or Linux-based alternative.
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Harry McCracken joins in the fun, and even adds a car analogy:

It wouldn’t stun me if ... Apple knocked $100 or so off the pricetag to make it into an upscale alternative to a netbook. ... Only a matter of time until Apple ships a non-Air MacBook with no DVD drive–in part to save money, in part to make the system thinner, and hey, maybe even to encourage consumption of movies and music from the iTunes store.

...

One thing I hope Apple doesn’t do is to give the white MacBook’s replacement an aluminum case. ... I’m not so sure that plastic-clad notebooks don’t preserve their good looks better than their aluminum cousins, at least if you drop computers as often as I do. (Hey, I used to own a Saturn car, in part because of the plastic body.)
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Robert Evans speaks of "Consumer Ultra-Low Voltage" (CULV) devices:

Apple needs to get prices down substantially in order to make their notebooks more competitive with the variety of netbooks and CULVs that have come down the pipe as of late. Increasing battery life by a large margin is believed to be a major priority of Apple's when it comes to redesigning the MacBook. It's also likely that, by using last-generation processors and components, they will be able to cut down on costs while offering a solid boost in computing power over the last generation of MacBooks.

  This recession has really changed up Apple's game. They're focusing less and less on high cost computers and gadgets, and more on affordable, reliable products for budget consumers. The $99 iPhone, the cost reduction for the MacBook Pro line, the revamping of the MacBook line, and the upcoming iTablet are all examples of this.
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Dieri Castrejon can't wait:

I long for the return of glossy white in future Macs. Aluminum (as well as the combination of grey/black) seems too bleak & uber-industrial. Very Windows-esque.
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So what's your take?
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Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itblogwatch@richij.com.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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