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Summary:

That may sound like an obvious statement but the overall consensus of late is that Macs are getting closer in pricing to comparable Windows-based PCs.  That seems to be changing currently, and quite a bit according to eWeek.  Joe Wilcox was taken with how cheap both […]

Dell_xps_one_2That may sound like an obvious statement but the overall consensus of late is that Macs are getting closer in pricing to comparable Windows-based PCs.  That seems to be changing currently, and quite a bit according to eWeek.  Joe Wilcox was taken with how cheap both notebooks and desktops are getting on the Windows side so he did some detailed comparison shopping to see how current PC prices compare with Mac prices.  What he discovered was quite an eyeful:

Imac_2Today I contacted Stephen Baker, NPD’s vice president of industryanalysis, about computer average selling prices at retail. That HPnotebook is right on mark: ASP for retail Windows notebooks is $700.Mac laptops: $1,515. Yeah, right, they’re more than twice as much. Butthere’s more: The ASP for Mac desktops is more than $1,000 greater thanfor Windows PCs, and Mac desktop ASPs were higher in June than theywere two years ago.

Ouch!  Mac notebooks are twice as much as PC notebooks comparably equipped and Mac desktops are $1,000 more than Windows-based equivalents.  Sure Macs are nice and have many virtues but it’s awfully hard to ignore numbers like these. 

Dwight Silverman gives his take on this and points out that interestingly cheap PCs are being offered with gobs of memory compared to their Mac equivalents.  This may be something that Apple needs to address given these economics.

  1. Trust me, a Windows box is more expensive when you factor in the sabotage:
    http://mikecane2008.wordpress.com/2008/08/05/microsofts-deliberate-pc-sabotage/

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  2. I’m not so sure that the disparity in RAM between the Macs and PCs has much impact. Like Linux, I can run my Mac pretty comfortably on much less RAM than I could with a comparable PC running Vista. The experience certainly becomes more positive in either case with more RAM, but I think the PCs really need the extra RAM more than the Macs. Just observation and opinion.

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  3. I love these arguments because, while they seem relevant at face value, they ignore build quality. Let’s face it, the HP systems noted in the article are bottom of the barrel systems and the build quality shows – cheap and flimsy. HP subcontracts out their manufacture and slaps their name on it.

    Paul Thurrott’s take:

    “Even with nearly identical interiors, do you get what you pay for? The Macbook I have is high quality. But the HP notebook mentioned above is a piece of junk. Iā€™d never go near the thing (and I like most HP products otherwise).”

    (full article: http://community.winsupersite.com/blogs/paul/archive/2008/08/06/mac-laptops-cost-twice-as-much-as-pc-laptops.aspx )

    How often in technology do things look good on paper, but disappoint when actually seen? Now if you want to compare a higher-quality laptop that HP makes against the MacBook, then we have a discussion; however, I think you’ll find that 2x price differential will quickly vanish.

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  4. Steve, you’re making the same assumption that a lot of Mac addicts make, “You pay more for a Mac because it’s a better, better built product”.

    To me, this argument doesn’t carry a lot of weight. I’ve owned notebooks from most of the major manufacturers, including Apple. The only ones that I’ve ever had to send in for service are the Macs, and those had to go in frequently.

    Do I hate Macs? Nope. But, in my experience there’s a lot more downtime and frustration involved with owning Mac notebooks than the Hps and Dells of the world. If I’m looking for a reliable machine, I’ll take the bottom of the barrel Dell over the top of the line Mac.

    If I’m looking for fun, I’ll take the Mac.

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  5. >>That HP notebook is right on mark: ASP for retail Windows notebooks is $700. Mac laptops: $1,515.

    Why do you think that average pc notebook equaly configured that average mac???

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  6. Comparing average selling prices between brands is useless unless they have similar product portfolios. Build quality has nothing to do with it. It comes down to the fact that Apple does not cater to the low-end market. Seen any Intel Celeron based MacBooks? No. I didn’t think so.

    Personally, I do not think Apple makes better built products. I have heard experiences from both ends of the spectrum. So for build quailty, your mileage may very. However, I tend to believe they put more thought into product design than most companies.

    Just my two cents…

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  7. Steve Spera: Stained palm rests. Overheating AC adapters; some with power cords that simply fray off. Sketchy screen backlights. Cracking case edges. Flaking exterior treatments. Metallic cases that hurt Wi-Fi reception. Should I go on? True, concerning those low prices for PCs, you get what you pay for. But Apple has been just cruising along on the strength of its reputation for a while now. And this is coming from a MacBook owner.

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  8. My addition to the discussion is this: Mac offers a very defined product in a few models. Windows has a much larger selection from the cheap (netbooks) to the expensive (think that HP Dragon, folks).

    In order to be competitive in the Windows market, the price point has to be attractive, which usually means cutting costs until the consumers buy. Mac isn’t a “for the masses” machine, based on its price point and likes it that way.

    Nothing wrong with either one. It’s just a business model.

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  9. Hi Nate,

    I’m sorry that’s your experience as it’s contrary to my own. I’ve owned several models of both Macs and PCs over the years, though never any bottom-end of either platform, and the Macs have proven more reliable.

    Ah the old ‘fun’ and ‘reliable’ comparison. This is a slight twist on the old ‘PCs are for work, Macs for play’ saw that’s been around forever. There isn’t really a point to discuss here – whatever floats your boat.

    Now I’m not saying that Macs are better than PCs overall – that’s a normative statement that holds true for an individual based on preference vs. a positive one that can be proven. I love that we have a choice; however, I’m against hyperbole arguments that ‘they’re twice as expensive’. Let’s be fair and compare apples to apples…

    BTW: Yes, I should be flogged for that pun ;-)

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  10. Nate,

    Sorry – I put your name in the post from vs. my own (sigh). My apologies. That last comment came from Steve Spera, not Nate.

    -Steve

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