Apple may launch a cheap MacBook in 2024 — will it turn the tide of declining sales?

A MacBook Air (2020) on a desk
(Image credit: Future)

Apple MacBooks are amongst some of the best laptops you can buy, but one common gripe has always been how expensive they are. Well, it seems like the Cupertino chums have listened, and plans are in place for a low-cost laptop.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has added fuel to a recent fire of a DigiTimes report that the company is planning to try and compete with more affordable laptops like Google’s Chromebooks — offering a cheaper MacBook in 2024 to flesh out the laptop lineup we’re expecting to see at Apple’s ‘Scary Fast’ event.

Return of the Mac(book)

12 inch MacBook ARM chip

(Image credit: Future)

The Apple family currently has the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Air, alongside the 13-, 14-, and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. What could this cheaper entry be into Apple’s laptop lineup? If I may be so bold as to hazard a guess driven by desire, I’d love to see the 12-inch MacBook make a comeback.

This smaller workbook didn’t have the greatest of launches back in the day — an Intel Core M-based ultra thin system for $1,299 was never going to set the world alight. But rumors of a relaunch have been circulating for years, and now with Apple silicon taking over the entire lineup, all the Arm-based puzzle pieces can be put together to make for an M3 MacBook.

And it would have to be the M3 because Kuo cited the “limited M2 computing power upgrade” as a reason why MacBook sales have tanked recently. It’s also purportedly one of the driving reasons behind this potential move to offer a low-cost MacBook, in order to reverse this tailspin.

Cheap as chips?

This leaves one critical question to ask: what would be a good price for a low cost MacBook? What price is going to look attractive enough to everybody keen on using one? 

Apple has never been one for super low prices, so I wouldn’t expect this laptop to go toe-to-toe with dirt cheap Chromebooks. But let’s take a look at the current pricing strategy, where you can snag the M1 MacBook Air for $999 (the lowest-priced option from Apple). 

However, you’ll regularly see the M1 Air sold for $799 during big sales events like Black Friday, so that’s where I’d place my bet — a $799 12-inch MacBook to turn the tides on declining sales.

More from Tom's Guide

Jason England
Managing Editor — Computing

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.