Are Macs more expensive than PCs? Does it matter?

Are Macs more expensive than PCs? Does it matter?

Summary: 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?

TOPICS: Apple, Hardware

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. 

But ...

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.

[poll id=280]


Topics: Apple, Hardware

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  • It matters if you don't have the cash.

    I bought a new computer recently. 4 GB RAM, 2.4 GHz Quad Core, etc., etc. Out the door I spent $1100. To get a comparably equipped new Mac would cost at least double. For the same $$ I spent I could have bought an iMac, but I don't need/can't use the screen built-in.

    If I feel I'm missing out of the Mac experience I just boot into Ubuntu and play around on the command line. Get my UNIX fix.
    • Then you dont fit Apple's target market

      I am not an Applepusher by any means, but if price is the only thing stopping you...its much like you trying to go out and buy a Ferrari vs an Eclipse...You dont fit their target market.

      PC's/Windows have their penetration because they are cheap. Dell used to be a highly regarded brand in the PC market (it kind of stil is -- but varies greatly on who you ask and when they purchased from them)..but Dell devalued themselves by making a 'Dell' available to everyone (akin to what 'Nextel' did for direct-connect).
      • But...

        ...since using Ubuntu I really can't justify the cost of a Mac. Anyway, there is always the Hackintosh route.

        To me it seems more and more that the OS is becoming irrelevant.

        Part of the Apple (computer) appeal is being different.

        My first mac was a G3 iMac Blue I picked up from a guy at work. His mom was getting rid of it because of the lack of programs. $25 later it was mine. I still have it and have converted it to Ubuntu. I'm giving it to my niece for her schoolwork.

        All this being said I'd still love to own a high-end PowerMac and a 24" iMac. Maybe when I win the lottery...

        Side note: does anybody else feel that Macs aren't quite Macs since the Intel switch?
      • What's the target market for Apple then?

        Is the Apple anymore productive than bricar2's new purchase? No? Then why spend more? Because it has a pretty case? Because then you can join the Apple club and get a blog?
        glocks out
        • The target market

          is people who want to get their work done without
          constant software and hardware problems.
          • Do strawmen work in the real world?

            Because they don't work on blogs.

            I get loads of work done on my PC at work. I get more done on my PC at home. I also get work done on my MacBook. Which one allows me to get my work done? All of them. Which one has hardware problems? None of them. Which one has software problems? None of them.

            Of course I have a hard time installing peripherals on my Mac.
            glocks out
          • "Do Strawmen work in the real world"

            Hey Glocks out, didn't you just say that macs don't generate error messages?

            You totally contradict yourself here. So what's the real truth? Do you really use a Mac Book or are you trying to come off sounding intelligent?

            As for peripherals I've had less issues on my iMac than my Dell Latitude running Vista (dual boot Vista/Ubuntu) or my wife's VAIO. Go figure - the Mac was plug and go.
          • you chose...

            the two crappiest manufacturers of computers possible. My experience with Dell:
            I have a better chance of having a block of cheese run my software correctly than any Dell I've ever used. They are poorly made, poorly designed, unstable, and an utter waste of money. Sony puts 10,000 pounds of bloatware that causes everything to have an issue. So yeah, your exactly is ridiculous.

            Secondly: he doesn't contradict himself at all. He's saying that he's had no problems for software on any of his machines, but hardware causes him a problem on mac. I guess you just didn't catch on to the 5th grade level reading comprehension...
          • What contradiction?

            I have my MacBook sitting here on my desk and a Dell desktop in front of me. I do most of my web work on my MacBook now. Of course I'm SOL when it comes to scanning because it doesn't matter if the scanner is HP, Epson or Canon I can't get it to work. I download the OSX drivers from the manufacturers and it doesn't work.

            I haven't had either of my desktops freeze on me in probably a year, but I've had my MacBook freeze on me twice. This isn't to say it's worse, it's about the same. I do have issues with Windows from time to time, but mostly with the godawful Office suite. I'm sick of Windows but I"m not overly impressed with OSX either.

            I've worked with PowerPC Macs almost 8 years ago and was so sick of their consistent failure that I had a bad taste in mouth for years and stayed away. After the Intel switch I was gradually drawn back. Once Vista hit I was sick of it so I got the Mac. I'm not against Apple, they make good products. What I'm against is the myth of Apple and blind devotion to the brand.

            Just deal with it, Apple is a luxury product aimed at a group of individuals who want to feel elite. And they're priced at a level that even many of those who are drawn to the image can't afford it. But luxury doesn't mean it's better, it just mean it's prettier.
            glocks out
          • @glocks out...

            Why do people like to wear their incompetence like a
            badge of honor around here?

            I have used 2 x HP 1300 series All In Ones, an HP 3100
            series All In One, and a Canon 8600F Scanner with 5
            different Macs - two Intel, 1 G5 and 2 G4s - using OS X
            10.3, 10.4, and 10.5.

            I've had no problems scanning anything, with any of the
            machines. Granted, HPs software is really bad, but I've still
            be able to use the scanners.

            I'd suggest next time that you ask someone for help.
          • @msalzberg

            Thanks for proving my point.

            If Mac is supposed to be so much easier than PC, why do I need to ask for help to get it to work?

            That's the whole point I was trying to make. Fortunately I don't do a lot of scanning so it doesn't bother me too much, but the fact that scanners don't plug-and-play in OSX and they do in Windows was the entire point I was trying to make. But even after downloading drivers it still doesn't work. Call me incompetent, all that does is prove my other point that Apple fanatics are elitists who are too loyal to see the flaws in their own systems.
            glocks out
          • Problems installing peripherals?

            I can't understand your problems using peripherals. In
            my own case, I'm using an HP Scanjet G4050 flatbed
            scanner for document, photo [i]and film[/i] transfers
            with absolutely no trouble with no driver downloads. I
            am also using an HP Photosmart printer [i]with disk-
            printing capability[/i] with no trouble and no driver
            downloads. In fact, with both of these the only software
            I installed was hardware-specific applications to use
            the added features--which did not include drivers--
            after plugging in the devices; unlike the Windows
            installs that required plugging the devices at a specific
            point in the install process.

            Why you're having troubles, I don't know. But why don't
            you try unplugging them, deleting the old software and
            just plugging them back in. That is, assuming as
            another poster has, if you have a Mac at all.
          • So....

            Just to let you in on a secret. Its third party dependent. Microsoft and MAC have nothing to do with the installers that come from HP or anyone else. Lest all do that thinking thing.
          • I tried that

            Still doesn't work.
            glocks out
          • The target market

            is for snobs that think you have to have a Mac to be cool, and willing to pay over 1 1/2 times the cost of a PC to get the same performance or less.

            As for the argument that Mac's are more stable.. I worked in tech support for 8 yrs and can tell you Mac users have tech issues too.

            Windows XP SP2 has worked flawlessly on this computer since I built it in August. I have not had 1 system failure or crash in that time.

            How much money would you have to spend to build a 2.66gh Intel Dual Core, 4gb RAM, 500gb HD, Dual nVidea 8600 w/256 mb running in SLI mode? I built this for less than $900.

            Tell me Mac users.. whats the going rate on upgrading your laptop to 4gb if you buy your memory from Apple? I can get 4gb for my laptop for $82.

            And for those that think that programs like Photoshop run better or faster on a Mac than a PC.. I've been able to run Photoshop on my PCs, faster and cheaper than your Mac since 1994 when I started using Photoshop.

            Mac's are all about marketing and snob appeal. They are the Loreal of the computer world.. "I buy it because I'm worth it".. Go ahead waste your money.. at least your new toy will be pretty.
          • You're post sums it up, I don't want to build my computer anymore

            You keep referring to building your next computer. I used to build all my PCs as well. Constantly adding some 3rd party widget to make my life easier. Then, last year I went to the Apple store and played around on a Mac and realized there was no need for all that, at least not for my needs.

            Macs work great for people who just want to use their computer for daily business and personal tasks. Email, web browsing, documents, (basic) spreadsheets, managing photos and editing home movies, creating family websites, etc. In my opinion, Macs are better at these things for the average consumer, which is the target market. And every Mac comes with most of this software pre-installed.
          • pcs...

            ...have all of that software too. As well as the fact that when you start a pc for the first time it does things like "click here to browse the internet" or the Vista first use window, telling you all the differences in Vista and previous windows, allowing you to connect to the internet, set up wireless network, etc. Want new software? click here to get started.

            On a Mac?

            Here's the desktop. Good Luck.
          • Just don't buy your RAM from Apple!!

            How ironic that the next reply to the parent's post was about how buying a Mac means you [b]must[/b] DIY because only fools buy RAM from Apple! Add in the [b]fact[/b] that [url=] Apple lies about its hardware specifications[/url], it means you must not only buy your RAM elsewhere and install it yourself, you must now shop around for a monitor from someone else too. Wow, sounds like buying a Mac is a lot of DIY work! :)
          • NonZealot STILL only to be seen on Apple sites...?

            Yup you can save good money buying your own memory
            rather than Apples. And Apple makes there systems down
            to the laptops easy for the average bear to install said.
            Now work involved.

            As for monitors...Huh? Most Apple systems come with
            built in monitors like their laptops and iMac. So buying
            your own is not practical. I don't even get his argument
            there? Why would I want to do so? My 24" iMac is brilliant
            I watch TV and Movies on it all the time. Not a problem.
            Sometimes NonZ is a mess with his arguments? Sigh.

            Pagan jim
            James Quinn
          • /sigh

            that argument has a huge flaw.

            those people "who just want to use their computer for daily business and personal tasks. Email, web browsing, documents, (basic) spreadsheets, managing photos and editing home movies, creating family websites, etc." can get a pc that does all those things for under $500. prebuilt. hell ive seen some in the 300-350 range with google os.