Are Apple and Intel Ready to Price Fight Like Mayweather vs Cotto?

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is taking the ultraportable notebook market seriously, but Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may have another move in the battle of the thinnest and lightest. With the chipmaker investing big in its ultrabook foray through sustained marketing efforts and an expected price decrease for consumers later in the year, word is that Apple may be looking to launch its own lower-priced version of the MacBook Air in the third quarter of 2012.

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Intel has been aggressive in trying to sell the ultrabook and may price its second-generation devices, set to launch by the second half of the year, at $699. The company is reportedly planning to spend $300 million on ultrabooks and another $100 million on developing its own application store. The notebooks may also see increased growth once Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) launches its new Windows 8 later this year.

However, Apple could be looking to launch a $799 MacBook Air in the third quarter of 2012 to take on Intel’s challenge in the segment, according to DigiTimes. At the moment, Apple starts its Macbook Air at $999 and goes up to $1,599. The current entry-level MacBook Air is an 11.6-inch model that comes with a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 2GB memory and 64GB of flash storage.

Intel launched the ultrabook late last year, but sales have not been as high as expected, with partner Acer reducing its ultrabook shipment target for the year. One model that has done very well is the $999 Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) XPS 13 ultrabook, which only launched in February 2012 and has already sold almost three times more units than expected. However, pricing has been a big issue for Intel, and if it manages to bring that down, sales may see a spurt.

But Apple, which already holds an advantage in the segment, may end up killing even those ambitions if it can match Intel, or come close to it, in pricing. New MacBook Air devices are also expected to get the new Intel Ivy Bridge chipset that promises much better performance without compromising battery life.