The tech armies of profit are lining up against each other for new product releases this fall! (Maybe even late summer) The big tech companies are coming out with the "thin laptop" concept vying for market share and a big battle this year will be Apple (AAPL) MacBook Air against a new Ultrabook by Dell (DELL), the XPS-13. The light weight portable market is expected to be the next big thing as general PC sales continue to lose market share. Apple has a nice market share(click to enlarge) already, will the XPS-13 chip away at Apple?
In a side by side comparison on Mobile Tech Review, both computers were pretty evenly matched The MacBook Air was preferred with its "Mac glass multi-touch trackpad" and the display edge was given to Mac with its somewhat wider viewing angles and less glare. The XPS-13 on the other hand was preferred with its design and material use (gorilla glass and innovative carbon fiber bottom). Both come with the (click to enlarge)Intel (INTC) Sandy Bridge core CPU. Even though Mac has 100 more GHz (1.7 to 1.6) it will not have a huge affect upon performance. Any significant difference is in pricing where the top line Dell is about $300 less than the Apple.
Is pricing going to make a difference?
For some people it might. And in a weak economy like we have, many consumers are price conscience. But is $300 enough to sway consumers to buy the Dell XPS-13 over the MacBook? The answer to this question may lie in culture and not price. Through the years of careful planning, advertising and high quality product innovation, Apple is seen as an innovative company capable of producing high-quality, easy to use, must-have products like the iPod, the iMac, and the MacBook. Their customers are some of the most loyal and passionate fans around who are willing to camp out for up to five nights in order to get their latest product.
I guess the real question boils down to how loyal are Apple customers in a weak economy like we have? It is not hard to figure out that a frugal and price conscience shopper who may have never owned an Apple product will look at both thin books and possibly be told by a (poorly informed) sales representative that they are basically the same. So the shopper may pick up the Dell solely on saving $300.00. This is a realistic probability considering the global economy. I believe market share will boil down to price and brand loyalty.