Over on Computerworld, Preston Gralla posted a piece called "Five reasons why Vista beats Mac OS X." I'm going to be straight up and say that I don't agree with much that Gralla wrote in this piece, but one of the five reasons he gives comes down to that age old argument - are Macs more expensive than PCs?
Reason #3: It's the money, stupid
If you're got a lot of extra spare cash laying around that you don't care about, then by all means, buy a Mac. But if, like most of the world, you've got to work for a living, then you'll find that a Vista machine is far less expensive than a Mac.
Are Vista machines cheaper than Macs? Well, let's take a look. Going to the Apple Store I see that the cheapest Mac on sale is the Mac mini, and this retails for $599. iMacs start at $1,199, MacBooks at $1,099, the MacBook Air starts at $1,799 and MacBook Pros start at $1,999. Skipping over to the Dell store, the cheapest desktop range is the Inspiron, and these start at $349. The cheapest Dell notebooks start at $499.
Conclusion: Yes, Macs are pricier than Vista systems.
Personally, I think that this price argument is bunk. People spend what they're willing to spend on something. If the cheapest Mac doesn't fit into the shopper's budget range then they'll look elsewhere. In much the same way that Rolex and Omega wristwatches are expensive, the price of a Mac is only a downside if you can't or are unwilling to spend the money.
The real questions shouldn't be are Macs more expensive than PCs, it should be whether they offer value for money. Looking at Apple's current lineup and comparing it to offerings by other vendors, I have to say that I think they do offer good value for money.
My guess is that the reason that Macs are labeled as expensive is that Apple doesn't offer much at the budget end of the spectrum. Why? Well, take a look at what's happened to Dell over the years. Not much good comes from devaluing your product. If instead of dabbling, Apple started to wade deep into the budget market I think that the company would be slaughtered by the competition. Part of Apple's success is the way that the company doesn't focus on price or value, but instead the exclusive nature of the product. Apple succeeds because it is a "designer label" tech company. There are no budget Rolexes and Bugattis, so why expect a budget Mac.