Apple today dropped prices of its Retina-equipped 13-inch MacBook Pro by as much as $300, and lowered the price of its top-end MacBook Air by $100.
Some models of the company's laptop line also received processor speed increases, with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina now sporting a 2.6GHz Intel Core i5. The two stock 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina notebooks also got a performance boost.
[ For tips and tools for managing an enterprise Mac fleet, download InfoWorld's free "Business Mac" Deep Dive PDF special report today. | See InfoWorld's slideshow tour of Mac OS X Lion's top 20 features and test your Apple smarts with our Apple IQ test: Round 2. | Keep up with key Apple technologies with the Technology: Apple newsletter. ]
Apple rarely lowers prices, but instead typically keeps them static while swapping out CPUs for faster silicon, or beefing up other components, such as memory or storage space.
"They've got slow growth in PC sales like everyone, and lower prices help," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, who also cited efficiencies in Retina screen production and processor price cuts as likely contributors to Apple's decision.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with the higher-resolution Retina display received the largest cuts, with the lower-priced of the two stock configurations falling $200 to $1,499 and the more expensive of the pair dropping $300 to $1,699. Those decreases represented cuts of 12 percent and 15 percent, respectively.
Apple also cut the price of the top-end 13-inch MacBook Air, the model with 256GB of flash storage space, by $100 to $1,399, a 7 percent reduction.
The last time that Apple made price cuts of this size on already-existing models was in mid-2009, during the depths of a major recession, when it dropped MacBook Pro prices as much as 15 percent. Apple also cut prices of the revamped MacBook Air line a year later when it introduced a sub-$1,000 11-inch ultra-thin notebook.
Like all personal computer makers -- dubbed "OEMs" for "original equipment manufacturers" -- Apple has struggled to maintain sales growth in the face of continued economic woes in some regions, and competition from tablets and smartphones. Apple has also had been haunted by supply problems in its revamped all-in-one iMac desktop line for nearly four months.
During 2012's fourth quarter, Mac sales plummeted 22 percent compared to the same quarter the year before. Last month during an earnings call with Wall Street, CEO Tim Cook credited part of the Mac's poor performance to cannibalization by tablets such as its own iPad.
"I think Apple made this move [because] it had seen disappointing results because of the high [Mac] prices," said Gottheil.