Apple has virtually complete control of the high-end notebook market in the US, the NPD Group says. In June, MacBooks represented 91 percent of all US portables sold priced over $1,000. The figure is an increase on an already high 88 percent in May and even higher than in early 2008, when Apple held just 66 percent of the same audience. The jump has already been credited to a 25 percent jump in MacBook sales following the launch of new MacBook Pro models, suggesting the sheer popularity of the new models as the main factor.
The shift has been helped partly by price cuts in Apple's lineup that brought the base prices of its 13-inch and 15-inch aluminum notebooks downwards as well as feature and speed upgrades. Apple also has an unambiguous advantage in the extra-long battery life of its notebooks regardless of size.
Apple's seeming success in the category poses a challenge for Microsoft, whose Laptop Hunters campaign has with certain exceptions focused mostly on the same premium category as Apple and attempted to portray MacBook Pros as unnecessarily expensive compared to Windows systems like the HP HDX16. Price drops on the Macs have at least partly closed the gap and in many cases eliminated central complaints about value for money, such as the amount of RAM on the starter 15-inch MacBook Pro.
To date, Apple has refused to participate in the sub-$1,000 notebook market beyond the $999 white MacBook over concerns of performance and quality.