Following yesterday's pro Mac laptop price reductions in the US, Apple has slashed the prices of the 15-inch Titanium G4 PowerBooks (TiBook) and made slight cuts to the 12-inch Aluminium G4 PowerBooks.

The 867MHz DVD-ROM/CD-RW model of the 15-inch TiBook has had its price dramatically reduced by £300, from £1,899 to £1,599. The 1GHz DVD-R SuperDrive model is down £200, from £2,199 to £1,999. All prices include VAT.

Both models of the 12-inch PowerBook see prices cut by £100. The 867MHz DVD-ROM/CD-RW model is down from £1,399 to £1,299. The 867MHz DVD-R SuperDrive model goes from £1,599 to £1,499.

Model specifications remain unchanged. The price of Apple's 17-inch PowerBook G4 remains unchanged at £2,599.

Titanium future? The significant price cuts to the 15-inch Titanium PowerBooks suggests that Apple will soon announce a mid-range PowerBook version in a lightweight and durable aluminium alloy enclosure (hard metal, not painted).

Other likely enhancements would be 54Mbps (maximum) AirPort Extreme and optional or built-in Bluetooth wireless networking, NVidia GeForce4 440 Go video card with either 32MB or 64MB VRAM, and FireWire 800 slot.

Year of the laptop Apple vice president of Hardware Product Marketing Greg Joswiak says that Apple's price cuts have been designed to feed the momentum of PowerBook sales.

At January's Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs ushered in 2003 as the "Year of the Laptop." Apple's seen great success with the sales of its laptop line, with PowerBooks and iBooks making up 42 per cent of the systems sold last quarter.

"We're very proud of that," Joswiak told MacCentral yesterday, after announcing the US price cuts. "We'd like to get to the day where we're selling as many laptop systems as desktops, and we're well on our way to doing that."

Apple's figures compare favourably to the rest of the personal computer industry, where 25 per cent of units sold as laptops is closer to the norm. Apple has consistently outpaced the rest of the PC industry throughout 2001 and 2003 in this regard, according to Joswiak, with a third of all systems sold as laptops.

The news of the PowerBook price drops was well-received by market analysts. IDC analyst Roger Kay said that he thought the lower prices on systems would certainly encourage notebook computer purchases. "It's reflecting a shifting mix in Apple's customer demand," Kay told MacCentral.

Apple's customer base is ahead of the PC market when it comes to notebook adoption, according to Apple's own estimates. IDC sees as a general trend in the computer market, as the gaps and performance differences that have traditionally separated desktop and notebook computer sales continue to diminish.

Jupiter's Michael Gartenberg says that Apple's price drop should help continue the push to laptops now that Apple has fed the demands of early adopters.

"The prices put Apple more in line with competitive offerings from the Wintel crowd," Gartenberg told MacCentral.

MacCentral's Peter Cohen contributed to this story.