Apple on Tuesday cut the price of its most popular laptop line by $100 ahead of the holiday shopping season, taking its starting price in the US below $1,000 for the first time.

Steve Jobs, chief executive, said Apple would offer a refreshed line of MacBook computers with price tags from $999, down from $1,099 for the most basic model.

The move comes as the slowing economy has the computer industry braced for a wave of weaker sales growth.

While Mr Jobs did not directly connect Apple’s price move to the sputtering economy, lowering the price of its most popular laptop line could help the computer maker as it tries to continue to outgrow PC rivals. Last month, Apple also cut prices on its new lineup of iPod music players.

Apple’s Macintosh computers, which accounted for more than 48 per cent of the company’s $7.5bn in sales last quarter, have been out-selling the broader PC market by two to three times in recent quarters.

But its computers tend to be more expensive than those of its rivals, leading some analysts to believe that Apple could be particularly exposed to an expected pullback in consumer spending.

Those concerns have been reflected in Apple’s stock performance. Its shares have fallen more than 50 per cent since May.

During a presentation at Apple headquarters, Mr Jobs unveiled a series of new features and changes to Apple’s MacBook, MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptop lines, including new touch-pad controls featuring “multi-touch” technology adopted from Apple’s iPhone mobile handset.

Apple’s shares followed the broader market lower on Tuesday, falling 5.2 per cent to $104.50.

The Apple presentation came as Samsung Electronics, the Korean electronics maker, announced a raft of new products for the US laptop market.

The company, which already markets flat-screen televisions and other consumer electronics in the US, said it would launch five new notebook models, including the lightweight “netbook” designed for business users.

Samsung said it expected to begin selling its computers in retail stores by next spring.

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