A MacBook Air yesterday

A MacBook Air yesterdayAsus may be delighting the market for affordable, teeny laptops with the likes of the Eee PC 900 and Eee PC 1000, but Apple could be about to try and muscle in. According to industry analysts, a MacBook with a 13-inch screen could soon be on sale for around £500.

That’s if you believe Gene Munster, an analyst at investment bank Piper Jaffray. He told Apple Insider that Jobs’ boys are keen to cut their gross margin from 31.5 per cent for the current quarter to 30 per cent for 2009.

"We believe there is an 80 per cent chance Apple will introduce redesigned MacBooks and possibly new MacBook Pros at lower price points," he said, gazing into his crystal ball. "Specifically, Apple may re-enter the $999 price point (currently $1,099) with the MacBook, or test the $1,799 price point with the MacBook Pro (currently $1,999)."

Munster wasn’t finished there, though, predicting that lower-cost “touch-based iPods” would be heading our way in time for Santa to be dropping them off later this year.

However, it’s not exactly an everything-must-go firesale.

"We believe Apple is getting slightly more aggressive with its pricing; but overall the company is not diverting from its strategy of premium pricing," Munster said.