What would you pay?

Would you pay $849 for a new MacBook? - Apple 2.0:

According to AppleInsider‘s Kasper Jade, Apple sees the cuts — which could come in the next month or two — as an ‘interim solution’ to the growing popularity of netbooks, those sub-compact laptops that Steve Jobs once dismissed as ‘a piece of junk’ but which are flying off the shelves at $299 to $349 apiece.

Another round of wishful thinking via rumour, but I just wanted to point out that what’s key with watching Apple here is not the bottom price points, but the interlocking matrix of price points. Over the years, led by their iPod business, Apple has mastered the art of the upsell through models with additional features. I think the turning point was the introduction of the iPod mini, at $249. For ‘just’ $50 more, you could get a full-sized iPod with nearly four times the capacity.

Take a look at the Mac portable and desktop, consumer and professional lines, and see that the jump from one product to the next is about the same as the jump between models within a product line. Really, spend some time at store.apple.com, and see that the price matrix is just as precise and artful as the company’s engineering. The question is not “how low can Apple go?” but rather, “what shift in the prices of existing products will suggest more models in another product down the line where an upsell to the current cheapest product is an easy jump to make?” (Easy, eh?)

So let’s speculate irresponsibly. If the current white MacBook model goes down to $849 (which is already a leap because Apple doesn’t cut prices lightly, as they know it’s hard to turn back), as the linked article proposes, then it would support netbooks at $749 and $649. Or maybe “MacBook Minis” at $599, $699, and $799. Adding one product line doesn’t get you close to the mythical $349 that people are wishing for.

Wait, should that be “MacBooks Mini”?