BY Fast Company 2 MINUTE READ

The Apple Vision Pro mixed-reality headset might not be the only all-new product the iPhone maker is set to introduce in 2024 if a report from DigiTimes is correct (via MacRumors). The publication cites supply-chain sources that say Apple is working to bring a low-cost MacBook to market next year. The reason behind this move? Apple wants to take on Google’s Chromebook dominance in the education arena.

Apple coming out with a low-cost anything should always be taken with a grain of salt, but rumors of the company working on a Chromebook competitor do make sense for a few reasons. First is that laptop shipments are down across the computer industry worldwide. People stocked up on laptops during the pandemic years so there’s a lull in the market for portable devices now since most consumers generally keep the same computer for four or more years. A new low-cost MacBook could help Apple jumpstart its laptop sales in 2024.

The second reason is that Apple has completed its transition to Apple Silicon chips in its computers. Apple Silicon allows for new kinds of form factors in the MacBook thanks to the chips’ better energy efficiency and performance. It’s likely these chip advantages translate well in regard to launching a new low-cost form factor.

Indeed, the DigiTimes report says that Apple will keep the metal body found on current premium laptops like the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines, but the body will be made of different materials. And as entry-level Apple Silicon chips can run well without generating tremendous amounts of heat, today’s current entry-level MacBook Airs don’t require fans, lowering component costs overall. This would all translate well to a Chromebook competitor from the iPhone maker.

A third reason the report could be correct is because Chromebooks dominate the education laptop market. Apple wanted iPads to do that, but the tablet has yet to gain the foothold that traditional, low-cost laptops like the Chromebook have in K-12 schools. A low-cost MacBook could help give Apple the education foothold it’s always wanted.

Of course, it is also possible that Apple may be experimenting with a Chromebook competitor but may ultimately decide to hold off on releasing it or abandon the idea completely. Yet if the report from DigiTimes is correct, it means 2024 will be a busy year for Apple as the company releases one of its most costly devices ever and one of its cheapest computers.

We’ve reached out to Apple about the report and will update this post if we hear back.