Microsoft, Apple cut deals to clear out tablet, notebook stock

Gregg Keizer
4 June, 2013
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Microsoft and Apple last week kicked off promotions that may signal inventory clearing as they prepare their next generations of hardware.

On Friday, Microsoft debuted a deal that hands a free keyboard-cover to buyers of its Surface RT tablet.

Friday’s promotion was the second discount Microsoft announced last week. On Wednesday, Microsoft said attendees of TechEd North America 2013, a conference that runs form 3 to 6 June in New Orleans, will be able to purchase a 64GB Surface RT for US$99 and a 128GB Surface Pro for US$399.

The deals’ timing is another clue that Microsoft is trying to get rid of its Surface inventory before launching new models. Its original tablets are coming up on their first anniversary – Microsoft surprised the industry with its own hardware on 18 June 2012 – and the BUILD conference at the end of this month would be a perfect stage for unveiling new tablets.

Microsoft is also expected to follow other OEMs in adopting new Intel processors, those from the ‘Haswell’ architecture, that boast improved graphics performance and better battery life, for its Windows 8 Surface Pro device.

Like its rival, Apple also launched a promotion last week that could be seen as an attempt to clear out inventory.

On Thursday, Apple got an early start on back-to-school season – or at prep graduation gift giving – by doubling the educational discount of the 13in MacBook Pro notebook to US$200, lowering the price of the entry-level laptop to US$999 for parents and teachers of K-12 students, as well for as college teachers, staff and students.

The more expensive MacBook Pro with 8GB of memory, a faster processor and a larger hard disk drive, now costs US$1299 in that same deal, US$200 under the retail list price.

Neither of the MacBook Pro notebooks at discounted prices includes the Retina-style display.

Apple is expected to announce new MacBook laptops at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which starts on 10 June in San Francisco. Those new laptops will likely feature Intel’s Haswell processors that promise 50 percent longer battery life and double the graphics performance of the Core CPUs known by their code-name Ivy Bridge.

Supplies of some models of the MacBook Air line have also been in short supply, an indication that that line will also be refreshed at WWDC with the Haswell processors.

(This is a cut-down version of an original article by Gregg Keizer, Computerworld)

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