Apple will battle Sony in the drive to develop a generation of computer "catwalk models" - devices as thin as possible, according to StrategyEye analyst, Aleksandra Bosnjak.

She describes the super-thin MacBook Air laptop, launched this week by Steve Jobs at Macworld 2008, as "very smart" and says the Air offers an insight into how Apple is positioning itself, pointing out that the Mac's price undercuts Sony.

"We're predicting some fierce rivalry between these two companies in 2008," she said.

The analyst believes consumers will tolerate the sacrifice of original design and technology - even the solitary USB port - "Mac OS X is superior to Windows Vista, enabling people to remotely search for files on all computers connected to their network. Leopard is a simple tool to manage rich multimedia applications and provides an easier stream of content.

"However, it remains to be seen how quickly it will be adopted by consumers, simply because the more both Microsoft and Apple change, the more they stay the same."

The computer, she says, should be seen as part of Apple's strategy to dominate the emerging connected home market by driving consumers to its products.

"In that context, the MacBook Air is a smart move. By shaving the price they will attract consumers encouraged to treat this as a bargain, especially when compared to most Apple products, and it should fly off the shelves."

However, Aleksandra does see challenges ahead for Apple. The company is not alone in bidding to dominate the connected home. Microsoft, Sony and Google are competing hard.

"We salute the MacBook Air for its reasonable price. But there is perhaps too much focus on aesthetics, and the frequent product updates we see from Apple may bring a consumer backlash in the long run," she warns.

Aleksandra thinks the company should focus on fewer launches and updates and instead concentrate on balanced pricing around the world and on the quality of its products.