In the world of laptops, Google specialises in cheap and cheerful Chromebooks for schools, while Apple favours expensive computers that you might not trust little Timmy and friends not to break before the first week of term is out.

But that could all be about to change if a new report from DigiTimes is to be believed. 

Citing industry sources, the site claims that the company is plotting a low (ish — this is still Apple, after all) priced MacBook to rival the Chromebook. It would be cheaper than the MacBook Air (as you’d hope, given the lowest-priced model is NZ$1,749) and come with low-cost components.

If Apple could stomach the smaller margins that the educational sector offers, there are plenty of ways it could be done. Ditch the metal casing for the old plastic shells embraced with MacBooks or iBooks, or make something like an entry-level iPad (NZ$649) with a keyboard. If Apple could stretch to an M1 chip, it would leave Chromebooks in the dust for speed.

But would Apple really fancy going all in for those slim margins in a sector so competitive that even big-bucks Microsoft is struggling to make an impact? 

Possibly not, and indeed Apple’s SVP of marketing has been quite scathing about Chromebooks in the past, calling them “cheap testing tools for required testing” four years ago. 

“If all you want to do is test kids, well, maybe a cheap notebook will do that,” he added. “But they’re not going to succeed.” Sassy.

But hey, Apple’s made more screeching u-turns than that before. Remember how Steve Jobs said “yeugh” to styluses and how the company had a whole commercial about how a 4in iPhone was perfectly engineered to fit the human hand? Today, the iPhone 14 starts at 6.1in, and the company would love you to buy an Apple Pencil with that new iPad.

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