Re: And about to fall off a cliff
They already won't be paying a Qualcomm tax on ARM Macs, since they don't include a modem. Apple has used the Mini as the lower priced Mac in the past selling it for $499, though they increased the base price since.
If they wanted a low end "starter" Mac could easily go back to selling a base model Mini for $499. Or theoretically even $399 since the base iPad is only $329 and the extra RAM/flash in the Mac would be made up for by not having the 10" touchscreen. I could see them doing this with the Mini, but not a laptop.