Apple and the Missed Market Opportunity or Why Steve Jobs Needs to Call Me

Seriously I could sell so many MACs, really help with the switching from PC push. At least way more helpful than those obnoxious commercials, which even if you don’t care for Apple’s Promotion, get the job done. I know a ton of non-tech savvy people who just need a reliable computer for all the fun stuff, and basic productivity, as well as several other tech-minded and business pros considering the switch.

The Number One reason I cannot convince folks to switch to MAC may not be what you think. It isn’t exactly “Price” or “the MAC cannot do everything.” They are easy to find, available in more Places than ever: Apple Stores, online and even some Best Buy locations. No it is the other “P” of the marketing mix, Product: Apple does not make their computer, which is to say an Average Joe Portable Desktop Replacement.

A huge market segment of computer users buy laptops… and have them sit on the table 90% of the time. The catch is, that 90% includes the kitchen table, an office desk, a lap in the living room, and a lap in the bedroom. (The other 10% is for when the computer actually goes in a bag, so the folks can check email while on vacation). *

Apple has three lines of laptops: MacBooks Regular, Non-fat (Air) and Grande (Pro).

Regular and Air have 13.3” screens that are lovely and great for road warriors, coffee shop devotees, students and the like. But for folks upgrading to bigger, flatter TV screens all the time, that won’t cut it. Truth be told, that does not work for Apple either as the smallest monitor they sell is a 20” widescreen iMac or a 20” Studio Display. Just saying.

Grande (Pro) has 15.4” and 17” gorgeous displays, but there are two catches: 1) they come attached to workhorse machines (more computer than many people need) and 2) they come with powerhouse prices (more than a lot of folks are willing to pay). So while the Pros are solid desktop replacements, they are not for everyone.

Apple needs a 17” MacBook Regular.

New MacBook product and pricing recommendations:
• White, 13.3″, 2.1 processor, 120 GB: $999
• White, 13.3″, 2.4 processor, 160 GB: $1,149
• Black, 13.3″, 2.4 processor, 250 GB: $1,349
• White, 17”, 2.4 processor, 250 GB: $1,499

IMO MACs are still a little pricey (YMMV, clearly I think they’re worth it) but moving closer to the pack, so I have nudged the numbers a little further. And obviously there’d be some upgrade options for the 17” but you see the math.

Method to the madness: “That’s two computers!!!”

Look at the price gaps between Coffee Regular (MacBook, plenty of power for most of us) and Extra Fat Double Caf Grande (MacBook Pro, wicked fast tank), which is what one has to get to get a decent size (desktop replacement) screen. To the PC-buying public, who can walk into any office store and get a servicable 15.4” or 17” laptop for $900-$1,200, it’s too much.

• 15” Pro, 2.4 processors, 200 GB, better display, graphics card, bells, whistles, yada: $1,999
• 15” Pro, 2.5 processors, 250 GB, better display, even better graphics card, bells, whistles, yada: $2,499
• 17” Pro, 2.5 processors, 250 GB, better display, even better graphics card, bells, whistles, yada: $2,799

There’s always a Catch

The downside for Apple, should they implement my brilliant plan, the 17” MacBook becomes Apple’s number 1 selling machine. No seriously, that is the big negative here and the conspiracy theorist in me says that’s the reason why: A 17” MacBook will outsell the other MacBooks combined, cut into sales of the MacBook Pro line, as well as sway some iMac buyers who need the screen real estate, but do not need all the Pro power. †

My mythical $1,500 laptop hits the sweet spot between laptop and desktop, affordable and luxury, power and performance. By bridging the gap between the lines, increasing the size of the screen on the “consumer” or Joe Blow level laptop, Apple can capitalize on its growing popularity and kick the Switch Revolution into high gear.

And with today’s announcement of a “Twice as Fast, Half the Price” 3G iPhone (which will go over so well with early adopters) and all its Exchange glory, I see that Apple is poised to go after the PC market head on. So go ahead and do it already!

Then Steve Jobs can cut me that really big consulting check.

*All percentages and demographics are pretty much made up, but Truthiness helps make my point.
† For the record, I really like my 24″ iMac: gorgeous display, plenty of power. Keep my G4 12″ Powerbook for the road.

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