Apple just lowered the price of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display: the starting model with 128GB of storage now costs $1,499, and the step-up model with 256GB of storage and a new, ever-so-slightly faster 2.6GHz dual-core Core i5 processor is now $1,699. That brings the 13-inch pricing back to earth, but you're still paying a premium for that display, and our questions about overall performance remain.

13-inch Retina pricing comes to earth, but there's still a premium

The 15-inch Pros with Retina displays are also getting similar slight speed bumps: the base $2,199 model will go from a 2.3GHz quad-core i7 to a 2.4GHz chip, and the high-end $2,799 model will go from 2.6GHz to 2.7GHz with 16GB of RAM standard. And there's a small gift for MacBook Air buyers as well: the 13-inch Air with 256GB of storage now starts at $1,399.

It's fairly clear that the lowered prices here are related to the price of high-capacity flash storage, something Apple has traditionally bought in huge amounts to insulate itself from price swings. Speaking yesterday at the Goldman Sachs conference, CEO Tim Cook said Apple will accept lower profit margins to build up products for strategic reasons because the company is confident that it can "execute the supply chain and walk down costs." As Apple's Mac sales start to get pinched by rising iPad sales, it's certainly smart for the company to try and build up its next-generation laptop sales by lowering prices across the board — we'll see if this small bet pays off.