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Serious MacBook Pro discounts hint at pending refresh

Best Buy slashes prices by $200, sweetens deal by another $100 for students

Best Buy has discounted some MacBook Pro laptops by as much as $200, and offered college students another $100 off in a promotion that may hint at impending refreshes of Apple's signature notebook.

The U.S. retailer's sale features non-Retina MacBook Pro laptops at prices as low as $999.99, essentially the same as Apple's own students-only discount launched more than a month ago.

Best Buy chopped $200 off the 13-in. MacBook Pro, dropped prices of the Retina-equipped MacBook Pro as much as $150, and trimmed up to $65 from the MacBook Air's price tag. It's not clear how long the discounts will continue; the Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD blog cited July 27, but Best Buy's website seemed to indicate the deal would expire tomorrow, July 20.

The prices were valid for all buyers, not just students, but the latter will also receive an additional discount of $100 if they submit a valid email address ending in .edu.

A non-Retina 13-in. MacBook Pro, then, would cost an eligible student $899.99, 25% under the full retail price.

Although Apple always keeps its cards close, the discounts -- large by Apple's standards -- may be designed to clear inventory before new models are introduced. According to MacRumors, which maintains a buyer's guide that tracks the length of time between refreshes, the MacBook Pro line is long overdue for an overhaul, having last been tweaked in June 2012.

An alternate theory: Apple, like virtually every personal computer maker, is having an increasing tough time selling Macs as more customers buy tablets instead. The price cuts, selective as they are -- only Best Buy has posted prices this low -- could simply be Apple's attempt, albeit an unusual one for the firm, to keep sales ticking.

Apple updated the MacBook Air ultralights last month when it debuted Intel's next-generation Core processor, code named "Haswell," and claimed battery run times between 9 to 12 hours, depending on the model. The Cupertino, Calif. company also dropped prices of the popular 13-in. Airs by $100.

New MacBook Pro notebooks would certainly rely on the Haswell line. If so, and assuming the same kind of battery improvement as seen in the MacBook Airs, the Pros -- both non-Retina and Retina -- would run about 12 hours between charges.

Best Buy is wheeling and dealing MacBook notebooks with a sale that shaves $200 off the 13-in. MacBook Pro, $300 off for students. (Image: Best Buy.)

This article, Serious MacBook Pro discounts hint at pending refresh, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is [email protected].

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about macintosh in Computerworld's Macintosh Topic Center.


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