Apple is reportedly developing a new low-cost MacBook to compete directly with Chromebooks in the education sector. Chromebooks, known for their affordability and the cloud-centric Chrome OS, have gained significant traction in schools, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional laptops. Recognizing this trend, Apple aims to introduce a MacBook that can rival the popularity of Chromebooks in educational institutions.
Details on the New MacBook
According to industry sources cited by Digitimes, the new MacBook series is designed specifically for the education sector, positioning Chromebooks as its primary competitors. This upcoming device will be distinct from the existing MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lineups. To achieve a competitive price point, Apple might opt for different materials for the laptop's casing and incorporate budget-friendly components.
However, there's no confirmation on manufacturing activities from Apple's major suppliers as of now. If Apple adheres to its typical nine-month development to mass production cycle, the new MacBook could hit the market by the second half of 2024.
That will be just in time for the launch of Apple's M3/M3 Max processors. Although, it is unclear whether a more affordable MacBook would have the M3 chip.
The M3 Max chip is expected to power the next-generation MacBook Pro and iMac models, as well as a new Mac Pro desktop that will replace the Intel-based version. The report claims that the M2 Max chip will be manufactured using TSMC's 3-nanometer process, which will provide better power efficiency and performance than the 5-nanometer process used for the M2 and M2 Max chips.
Education Sector: A Lucrative Market
The K-12 education sector in the US has seen a surge in demand for online education tools post-pandemic, making it a lucrative market for tech companies. Apple previously targeted this segment with its iPad but faced stiff competition from Chromebooks due to their cost-effectiveness and user-friendly features tailored for educational purposes.
It is worth noting the market swings the other way too. For example, Chromebooks have struggled to find traction in the enterprise and casual consumer markets. Microsoft's Windows and to a lesser extent Apple's Mac dominate these sectors. Even so, we have seen how Microsoft tries to compete with more affordable Chromebooks in education, and Apple is now doing the same.
Pricing Challenges Ahead
While top-tier Chromebooks are priced between $700 and $1,200, those designed specifically for education often fall within the $150 to $300 range. Apple's challenge will be to significantly reduce the price of its new MacBook to make it appealing to the education sector. For context, the cheapest 13-inch M1 MacBook Air is currently priced at $999.