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Apple Debuts Faster, Cheaper MacBooks Amid PC Slump

Apple Inc. introduced more affordable versions of the MacBook with faster processors as the company works to woo price-conscious consumers amid slumping sales in the personal-computer market.

A 13-inch MacBook Pro with a high-resolution retina display and 128 gigabytes of flash storage goes on sale today in the Apple Online Store for $1,499, the Cupertino, California-based company said in a statement. A model with a 2.6 gigahertz processor and 256 gigabytes of flash will cost $1,699 -- the same price Apple announced in October for a slower machine with half the storage.

Worldwide PC shipments declined 3.2 percent last year as consumers and retailers shifted to tablets and smartphones, according to researcher IDC, after a 1.7 percent gain in 2011. Apple’s latest MacBook lineup is part of a push to make products thinner and smaller without sacrificing performance.

Apple also said it will sell a 13-inch MacBook Air with 256 gigabytes of flash for $1,399, a $100 discount off the price the company announced in June.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro with a retina display now has a faster 2.4 gigahertz quad-core processor, while a version with more features comes with 2.7 gigahertz and 16 gigabytes of memory, the company said.

Shares of Apple fell less than 1 percent to $467.01 at the close in New York, leaving the shares down 12 percent this year, compared with a 6.6 percent advance for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

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