Netbooks may be reshaping the ailing PC industry, but that doesn't mean they should be the next big piece in the Apple ( AAPL) jigsaw. The consumer tech giant is rumored to have its eye on the netbook market, a move that would signal a major change in the company's strategy. The iPhone maker has so far avoided mini-computers, preferring to focus its energy on feature-rich, premium-priced products like the MacBook.
Archrivals: Netbooks Vs. Apple
As Apple's results show, this strategy has worked. Unlike tech firms such as IBM ( IBM ) and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ) which offer a vast array of different offerings, Apple has made its name by focusing on a relatively small number of products which are all synonymous with its iconic brand. As the saying goes: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The company's least expensive laptop is its $999 white MacBook, certainly not the cheapest offering on the market, but hardly an impediment to Apple's growth. Even at a time when PC sales are plummeting, the firm managed to grow its first-quarter Mac sales 9% year over year, underlining the strength of a business model that relies heavily on features and cutting-edge design. Other parts of Apple are also doing well, despite the tough economy. The company grew its iPhone sales 88% year over year during the first quarter, and iPod sales were up 3%. More recently, Apple's shares received a boost from the launch of the "talking" iPod shuffle. Apple's App Store is also thriving. More than 500 million applications have been downloaded since the store was opened in July 2008, spawningimitators from the likes of Microsoft ( MSFT) and Apple's smartphone rivalResearch In Motion ( RIMM).