Apple cuts prices on notebooks

CUPERTINO, California Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:10am EDT

1 of 10. Journalists look at the new MacBook after a news conference in Cupertino, California, October 14, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Kimberly White

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CUPERTINO, California (Reuters) - Apple Inc on Tuesday cut the price on its entry-level notebook computer to $999 and introduced a line of aluminum-clad machines starting at $1,299 in moves catering to budget-minded buyers at a time when recession fears loom over the global economy.

But shares of Apple, which have risen about 20 percent since the company last week invited reporters to a notebook event, fell 3 percent in heavy trade on the Nasdaq to $106.99 after first falling as much as 5 percent. Many analysts had expected the entry-level notebook price to fall to $899.

"Bad for the stock today, good for the stock over the next couple of months," said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who said that the new machines looked good even if the new entry-level price was not as low as Wall Street had hoped.

Chief Executive Steve Jobs, looking thin but active, put the focus on the new line of MacBooks, although he took a few moments at the end to joke about his health.

His blood pressure was 110 over 70, he said. "And that's all we're going to be talking about Steve's health today," he added lightly, referring to concerns earlier this year that the cancer survivor's health was deteriorating.

He said he would not take questions on the economy or his health.

The new line of metal notebooks, starting at $1,299, are in what Gartner analyst Van Baker called the sweet spot of Apple's line. Previously a white plastic-body machine held the spot.

"The biggest news is the $1,299 MacBook," he said.

The $999 price will be for an updated model of the white-body notebooks. The new aluminum machines will use Nvidia Corp graphics and Intel Corp processors.

When asked if Apple would get into the market for small "netbook" notebook computers, Jobs said, "It's a nascent market," and that Apple would see how it went.

Apple also rolled out an $899 24-inch wide display for the new MacBooks.

(Writing by Peter Henderson; Editing by Brian Moss and Bernard Orr)

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