Rumor: Apple to Launch $799 MacBook Air to Challenge Ultrabooks

A possible $799 MacBook Air to compete with Ultrabooks.

Apple is considering the introduction of a US$799 MacBook Air in the third quarter of 2012 to combat the aggressive Ultrabook push by Intel and its PC partners, according to the supply chain sources of DigiTimes.

Intel’s heavy investment in the form factor – the chipmaker has already set aside a fund of $300 million for the marketing and development of its partners’ products – has resulted in the company’s target of a $699 price point for next generation Ultrabooks, to coincide with the release of Windows 8 later this year.

Such an aggressive price on notebooks that are generally of higher quality than the low cost “netbooks” that preceded them would pose a new round of pricing concerns for Apple, which currently sells a $999 11-inch MacBook Air as its lowest-priced notebook.

However, a $799 MacBook Air, with appropriately competitive specifications, would likely diminish a new round of “Macs are more expensive” analogies and significantly dampen Intel’s hope for mainstream adoption of the Ultrabook form factor.

While DigiTimes sources point to a release for a potential $799 MacBook Air later this year, Apple is expected to soon update its entire line of consumer desktop and portable Macs with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge platform, released last month.