Apple’s Pricing Scheme Is Starting To Bother Me

by James R. Stoup Jul 28, 2008

If you look at Apple's online store right now you will find that the cheapest laptop you can buy is $1,099, the cheapest 15" laptop will run almost twice that at $1,999. If you go to Best Buy's online store you can buy a 15" Acer laptop, right this very moment, for $479.99! Now I realize that Apple sells premium hardware, and I realize you are paying for OS X, and I realize that you get so much more with the Mac, but a price difference of over $1,500? Really? Am I the only one who thinks this is excessive?

Before someone hunts down this laptop and decides to crucify with its specs let me first say that I realize it is inferior in every way to the Mac. This Acer has a smaller harddrive, less memory, an older processor, no super drive, no built in camera, more weight, a bigger footprint and it runs Vista. You will get no argument from me that it isn't nearly as nice a machine as the Apple. But it is worth keeping in mind that you could buy 4 Acers for the price of 1 Apple, and still have money left over for shipping. The perspective on that should be mind blowing. You could buy 4 Acers for the price of 1 Mac. Please tell me I'm not the only one out there who thinks this situation is ridiculous?

Someone please explain to me why your average person out there should have to spend $2,000 at least if they want to try a 15" Apple laptop. I recognize that Apple has always sold premium hardware, and I further realize that you will always pay a premium for their equipment, but doesn't $2,000 seem a bit steep to anyone else?

Here is another example from Best Buy's site. Dell has a 15" Inspiron laptop
for sale. It has a 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processo, 3 GB of RAM, a 250 GB harddrive, a built in camera, a super drive and a 15" screen. Apple sells a similar Mac Book Pro that has a faster processor (2.4 GHz), less memory (2 GB) and a smaller harddrive (200 GB). The Apple's price: $2,000. The Dell's price: $600.

Maybe its just me, but it seems like the difference between Apple's prices and the rest of the industry are greater now than they have ever been. With new advances in technology an excellent portable computing experience can be had for less than $1,000. Why Apple is the only maker out there who refuses to recoginze this fact is beyond me.


  • Can’t agree more, James. And I’d just like to restate what you said:

    “Someone please explain to me why your average person out there should have to spend $2,000 at least if they want to try a 15” Apple laptop.”

    James, even (as you state) the cheapest MacBook is way dearer (more expensive) than your two examples.

    Insane, really, isn’t it. Apple proved with the Mac mini it can go after the bottom end of a market.

    Apple certainly needs to introduce a MacBook “mini” to its lineup to go after the bottom of the laptop market.

    Chris Howard had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 1209
  • Compared to an IBM/Lenovo, Sony, HP, Dell with similar features (equal resolution, DVI output, thin and light, etc), the Apple machines are consistently less expensive. Of these competitors, the top end Thinkpads are the only ones where the construction quality is comparable to an Apple machine.

    A Chevy is less expensive than a Mercedes. Should it not be so?

    On top of that, the life cycle cost of an Apple machine is a fraction of a Windows box, mostly due to a superior core OS architecture, and supporting a minimally diverse set of hardware and the associated drivers and testing complexity. From large scale (hundreds of thousands of desktops) data, the support cost of an OS X machine is a fraction of the support cost of a Windows box, even on top end hardware.

    Buy the same Dell machine in thin and light, corporate (consistent hardware)  configuration, and a 1400x900 LED backlit LCD (not a 1024x768 cheap 15 inch chunky character display), and you’ll get a nearly dollar for dollar equivalent, but not be up to Apple quality standards. (just type on the keyboard - you’ll get the picture).

    If Apple built junk like this, they would get slammed in the press for, well, building junk. Just like Dell gets slammed for building junk at the consumer level (and even cost cutter corporate machines).

    In the desktop realm, the disparity is even higher. Mac Pros are radically cheaper than, say an Alienware box configured the same (but not as cheap as a consumer HP desktop), and XServes are 70% cheaper (with the OS licenses - 30% otherwise) than an equivalent Dell server.

    It’s a pay me now or pay me later scenario. Me, I’ll go for stability and security, along with buying quality gear and not cheaply made low end equipment. Enjoy your Yugo. It’ll get you there, at least some of the time.

    kirkrr had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 6
  • Staying with cars -
    You’re saying “All cars with 15” tires should all cost the same.”  You are incorrect.
    Also, in 2 or 3 years, what is the resale value of either laptop?  You know the answer.
    Please do better next time.

    thethirdshoe had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 3
  • “You could buy 4 Acers for the price of 1 Mac.”

    And long after that fourth Acer bites the dust, the Mac will still be running.

    These are the same complaints we have been hearing from the anti-Apple crowd for years. Heck, I would love to be able to buy a Mac Pro for $1,000, but it just isn’t going to be.

    Apple is all about making great products while making a great profit. That’s why they are where they are today. That’s just the way it is.

    LorD1776 had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 19
  • @Kirkrr

    First, don’t stray off topic. I’m not talking about desktop computers. Nor am I talking about cell phones, MP3 players or displays. I am talking about laptops.

    Second, when I compared the Dell to the Apple, they both have the same screen. Same size, same resolution, same everything. Say it with me now: IT. IS. THE. SAME. SCREEN.

    Third, what makes me so mad isn’t that the computers are so expensive. I recognize that high quality items cost more. What galls me is that Apple’s competitors are producing similar laptops, using the exact same components and are doing it for a 1/3rd the price of Apple’s machines.

    I realize Apple makes better hardware, but I refuse to believe that making it out of metal, having it be 2 lbs lighter and 1 inch thinner increase the price by $1,300. Sorry, I call BS on that. What you are actually seeing is Apple’s 30%+ profit margins on those machines. If Dell can make money on a $700 machine I’m having a hard time believing that Apple is barely scrapping by with their $2,000 laptops.

    But that just me.

    James R. Stoup had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 122
  • “Please tell me I’m not the only one out there who thinks this situation is ridiculous?”

    Um, welcome to the world, son.  EVERYONE has been complaining about this for YEARS and YEARS and YEARS.  Always to be met with the Apple apologist excuses every single time, this time being no exception.

    It seems to me that one cannot justify the Apple low-end laptop’s lack of power and features (“all most people do is check e-mail and browse the web anyway”) with Apple’s significant premiums on price.

    It is perhaps true that Apple’s products are, nut for nut and bolt for bolt, comparable to similarly priced hardware, but the simple fact is that the Apple’s starting range is STILL way higher than other lower-end laptops.

    IMO, Apple would do better, if their goal is market share, to meet that market rather than demand that the market meet them.  That doesn’t seem to be their goal and they’re doing okay focusing on the premium market, so I wouldn’t expect them to change any time soon.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • Agreed.

    An Apple user from their beginnings, I have always appreciated their quality and design. I believe that their current laptop pricing is not supported by hardware/software costs.

    Now, if Apple was bold enough to start a trend by returning their manufacturing to the U.S., I’d pay much more without complaint.

    hotep had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 13
  • I have bought and owned more than 21 Macintoshes and iPhones and iPods since 1984. And I own a lot of Apple stock. And I develop software on the Mac and soon the iPhone.

    As a long-time Apple fan and Apple company owner, I would say that you can have your own opinion about Apple’s prices.  However, Apple will NEVER sell to the low end of the market - the commodity items, the cheap stuff, the breakable stuff. 

    Apple’s goals are to make the BEST products they can and to make a PROFIT.

    Apple is currently growing FASTER than any other PC company and making a TON of money selling their high end products.  They are doing extremely well.  They make take in more revenue per square foot from the Apple Stores than Tiffany’s.  They make 25% of Microsoft’s Profits while having only about 3% of the PC Market despite their current gains.  Apple does extremely well with a small marketshare.

    Apple would NOT do better to grab for marketshare by selling cheap products.  Marketshare is for companies that do very little research and product development.  Marketshare is for companies that have very thin profit margins, for companies that can die on an economic downturn.  Marketshare is for companies that are very unstable, that can fire thousands of employees at a moment’s notice.  Marketshare is for companies that treat employees like slaves and have employees that make below minimum wage. Marketshare is profitable only for companies - such as Microsoft - that have a MONOPOLY.  Otherwise, the companies and their employees suffer. 

    When you compare Apple’s products to SIMILARLY spec’d products then Apple’s products are usually less expensive.  Apple’s products are high end.

    If all you need are to check email and browse the web, then get a cheap Linux or Windows PC.  Don’t get a Macintosh.

    People who use Macs do much more with their computers than people who use Linux or Windows PCs.  The Mac environment enables you to do more.  As such, it is a premium product, an enabling product.  it is worth its price and more.

    When I bought my first Mac, as a college student, I worked and saved for 3 years to get the first Mac 128K ($4000 with printer).  I could have chosen an IBM PC, an Atari, an Apple II, Radio Shack, or other PC.  But I chose the Mac and spent the extra money for it.  I saw how much easier and productive I could be on the Mac than any other PC.

    Macs have much higher re-sale value than PCs.  The Laptops have a longer useful lifespan than PC laptops. 

    You don’t have Windows Rot, where the system slows down over time as it accumulates crud.  You don’t have viruses.  You don’t have constant antiviral and security software running in the background. You don’t have all the work you have to do to keep a PC going on the Mac.  Macs are a quiet and productive working environment.

    Macs are like BMWs.  Yes, the metal is the same. The plastic is the same.  But a BMW is not like your cheap Hyundai or mass produced Chevy.

    The 15-inch laptop is the MacBook Pro.  It is Apple’s premium laptop.  Sorry, it is not a cheap laptop. I think it is the BEST laptop in the world.

    If you don’t like the price of a Mac, then buy a Linux PC or Windows PC.  Go ahead. I encourage you to. 

    Otherwise, do what other people do.  Work, save, or even get a second job, to get the best laptop in the world - a Macintosh.

    James Katt had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 11
  • “Marketshare is for companies that treat employees like slaves and have employees that make below minimum wage. Marketshare is profitable only for companies - such as Microsoft - that have a MONOPOLY.”

    Like Apple and the iPod.  Agreed.  Or should I say just “greed.”

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 2220
  • “Marketshare is for companies that treat employees like slaves and have employees that make below minimum wage” - Out of curiosity, where are Apple laptops & components manufactured? Are the assemblers and sub-contractors in this mysterious place paid more than our minimum wage?

    I wonder if Foxconn, Asustek, and Quanta employees (in the PRC) are living in a manner acceptable to the folks at Cupertino.

    hotep had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 13
  • If you compare prices just based on the bill of materials, of course you will be quite upset.  But somebody has to pay for the torrid pace of software AND hardware development going on at Cupertino.  And that top-rated tech support at Apple doesn’t come free.  Staffing all those Apple Stores with geniuses doesn’t come cheap.

    Dell on the other hand is a company that spends very little on R&D;and customer support.

    If you’re mad at Apple for the ‘high’ prices, then buy some Apple stock so that you can benefit from their pricing strategy.  So far with profits and market share growing the way they are, looks like Apple is keeping prices right where they should be.

    tundraboy had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 132
  • Also, let’s not be so quick to judge Chinese employment practices on U.S. criteria.

    I’m not saying China is a factory workers’ paradise but the alternative for a factory worker at Foxconn is probably unemployment and starvation as a rural peasant.  If you are going to insist that China give this person U.S. level compensation under the pretense that you care for his welfare, then what you are doing is basically condemning him to poverty because no manufacturing jobs will exist in China if companies are forced to pay at or near U.S. scale.

    All, get this, ALL large industrialized economies today went through a low-wage phase where industrial labor was dirt cheap and the standard of living for factory workers were just a few notches above subsistence levels.

    tundraboy had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 132
  • The low-wage ‘phase’ exists here (U.S.) too. And it’s so ‘we’, wearing just the right shades, mousse and tats, sitting on our Ikea sofas, can flip though mindless iPhone apps, and waste energy while filling blogs with nonsense. When they come to get their share, will you go willingly?

    hotep had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 13
  • According to, a 4-door Chevy Aveo will set me back $9,500. The least expensive 4-door BMW will set me back $34,075. MY GOD - THAT’S NEARLY 4X as much. C’mon - you get what you pay for. If you can’t afford a BMW, you can’t afford it. What’s the problem?

    kennethben had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 2
  • Exactly.  If you can’t afford a BMW, then don’t buy it.
    Be happy with your Chevy Aveo and your Linux PC.

    Apple’s orders are to 1. Make a profit.  2. Make the best product it can.

    Apple tried to do clones.  Apple tried to get marketshare.  When it did, it LOST BILLIONS of dollars.  This is because the PC Market already has a Monopolist - Microsoft.  Try as you might, you can’t go against a monopolist and make money.  Look at how many desktop PCs are sold as Linux PCs.  Yes - hardly any.  Even free can’t cut it against the Microsoft Juggernaut.

    You will NEVER get Apple to sell a commodity product.  It doesn’t make money.

    It is NOT about greed.  It is about survival.  In the PC world, even IBM gave up - realizing it cannot make a profit off low cost laptops.  Only the low cost manufacturers who don’t do research, who have low wage employees (and Apple does not) to manufacture the hardware, who can live on dirt for profit, can survive that market.  Apple will not fight in the mud like they do.

    Look at how much trouble Dell is in today.  It is the cost cutting leader - the creator of the cheap mass produced PC laptop.  Apple is NOT going to go where Dell lives.  It is as simple as that.

    Again, for Apple: make profit and make the best.

    If you can’t afford a Tiffany Diamond, get cubic zirconia.  And be happy.

    James Katt had this to say on Jul 28, 2008 Posts: 11
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