Both companies are attempting to create "size-zero catwalk computers", according to Aleksandra Bosnjak, lead analyst at StrategyEye Digital Media.
Apple's super-thin MacBook Air, launched by Steve Jobs at Macworld 2008, is "very smart" and offers an insight into how Apple is positioning itself.
Bosnjak said that the competitive price tag of $2,499 substantially undercuts main rival Sony, even if the design is distinctly old-fashioned.
"We are predicting some fierce rivalry between these two companies in 2008," she said.
Bosnjak believes that consumers will tolerate the sacrifice of original design and technology, including the device's solitary USB port.
"The Leopard operating software it uses is superior to Windows Vista, enabling people to remotely search for files on all computers connected to their network," she said.
"Leopard is a simple tool to manage rich multimedia applications and provides an easier stream of content.
"But it remains to be seen how quickly it will be adopted by consumers, because the more Microsoft and Apple change, the more they stay the same."
The MacBook Air should be seen as part of Apple's strategy to dominate the emerging connected home market by driving consumers to its products, according to Bosnjak.
"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 co mpared to most Apple products, and it should fly off the shelves," she said.
However, Aleksandra sees challenges ahead for Apple which 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, and Macworld for its marketing genius," she said.
"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."
Sony and Apple gear up for 'fierce battle'
By Robert Jaques on Jan 17, 2008 7:33AM