Apple earlier this week cut the prices of its Retina MacBook Pro laptops by as much as 13 percent, a move one retail analyst said was driven in part by increased competition from higher-end Windows systems.
On Tuesday, Apple refreshed its MacBook Pro line, reconfiguring the laptops with the latest Core i5 and Core i7 processors based on its Haswell architecture, replacing previous chipsets with an Intel graphics processor dubbed "Iris," and putting the new models on a modest diet.
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The 13-inch MacBook Pro is 5 percent thinner and 3 percent lighter, for example.
Apple also reduced prices by $200, from $1,499 to $1,299 for the least expensive 13-inch laptop, and from $2,199 to $1,999 for the 15-inch model. Those cuts represented price decreases of 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Since the start of the year, Apple has slashed the price of the entry-level 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro by 24 percent.
The MacBook Pro was Apple's second notebook line this year to see price cuts. In June, Apple rolled out tweaked MacBook Airs at prices 7 percent to 8 percent lower than their predecessors.
Historically, the Cupertino, Calif., company has rarely lowered Mac prices, preferring instead to keep those stable but swap newer, faster processors for older CPUs, add more memory or increase storage.
But times are different, said Stephen Baker of the NPD Group.
"Apple's very high premium pricing is getting more difficult to sustain in this environment," said Baker, talking about the historic slump in the personal computer industry, now into its sixth straight quarter. "They needed to bring the pricing more in line with the overall market."
Apple has been having a harder time selling Macs, just as has virtually every other computer maker. In the quarter that ended June 30, Apple sold 7 percent fewer Macs than it did during the same period the year prior, for instance.
The price cuts were also an admission by Apple that tablets continue to cannibalize sales of laptops, said Baker. "Apple's portion of the $1,000-plus PC market is not quite as big as it used to be," he noted. "They've had some cannibalization in their higher buckets."
That cannibalization has come from both tablets and lower-priced notebooks, including Apple's own MacBook Air line, said Baker. And also, in a small way, from touch-based Windows portables and the even more radical designs known as "convertibles," "hybrids" or "2-in-1s."
"In the past year, premium-priced Windows [devices] have seen pretty decent growth," said Baker. "They're starting from very low volumes, but that's still growth."
Unlike Windows OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), Apple has an advantage when it comes to tablet cannibalization: It can sell its own iPad and at least keep customers within its garden.