But Gottheil declined to spotlight poor past sales as the sole reason why Apple slashed prices today. "I always thought the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina was not as sweet and balanced a design as the 15-inch," he said. "It overmatched the display with the computational power."
By reducing the "step-up" differences -- the gaps between entry-level models and higher-priced "upgrades" -- Apple should be able to sell more of the latter, increase overall revenue and boost the ASP, or average selling price, of its notebooks.
"There are three price bands for Apple's products," said Gottheil. "The 'got to just get something that works,' the performance-price medium, and the 'what the hell' band." Decreasing the difference between the first and second, he argued, could make more buyers opt for the higher-priced middle band.
Along with the price reductions, Apple also dropped the most expensive standard configuration of the 15-inch MacBook Pro -- a Retina-less notebook -- from its online store. That model, which sold for $2,199, can be duplicated by modifying the one remaining stock MacBook Pro, a $1,799 2.3GHz quad-core notebook with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard disk drive.
The updated laptops are available starting today at the new prices via Apple's e-store and retail outlets, as well as at some authorized resellers.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.