Confirming What We Already Knew: Macs Twice As Expensive

Last month, an eWeek writer did a analysis on Average Selling Prices for Windows PCs vs. Macs. The conclusion should not shock anybody: Macs are more expensive, twice as expensive to be exact. So that begs two questions: (1) Why are they continuing to sell so well (overall market share aside) and (2) why do Macs have such a “buzz” surrounding them?

Although I think the iPod “Halo Effect” and Apple’s marketing efforts (e.g. the “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” ads) have a lot to do with it, I think there is something more fundamental at play. And please don’t take the following statement as a sign that I’m a Mac fanboy because I’m not: Macs are easier to set up and the overall experience is, in many areas, better than a Vista PC.

My intent with this statement is not to ignite yet another Mac vs. PC debate. I’m just simply recounting my experiences as somebody who handles a lot of new computer setups (a business I am trying to “retire” from), as well as the care and feeding (and triage) of computers that have been in use for various lengths of time.

Getting a replacement computer can be, ironically, one of the more traumatic experiences for any computer owner. It shouldn’t be that way. This is an area where I think Apple has a clear edge over Microsoft.

Several weeks ago, one of my Mac customers finally bit the bullet and bought a new 24″ iMac to replace their aging iMac G3. New computer setups are, typically, not something I enjoy. But this was one I actually did look forward to for the simple reason that it’s fun to unbox a new Mac, and the process of migrating from the old system to the new system has been (at least for me), so trouble-free it’s almost a joke. Plug in the FireWire cable, startup the old Mac in Target Disk Mode, start up Migration Assistant on the new Mac, and sit back and let the bits do the walking.

I’ll compare this to a very recent experience I had with a Vista to Vista migration I did for another customer. I purchased a Belkin Easy Transfer cable for this task, but the Windows Easy Transfer process, stalled out several times during the transfer. I was able to get the copy process jump started again by unplugging and reconnecting the cable whenever it stalled. The end result was pretty good, although one major casualty was Windows Mail — messages didn’t transfer, nor did the address book, even though those items were included in the setup screens preceding the transfer. I manually exported these items and got them to the new machine the old fashioned way.

This wasn’t the first time I’d had a less than stellar experience with Vista’s Easy Transfer program. I had occasion to try to migrate from an XP machine to a Vista machine (which requires you to copy some software to the XP machine first). I wasn’t using an Easy Transfer cable this time, but a portable USB hard drive. In this case, the transfer process didn’t get any traction whatsoever. As I recall, on the XP machine, the Easy Transfer program kept locking up.

Now, I can’t claim to have “hard data” to back up my position. I have only my own personal experiences. And so far, the cards are stacked in Apple’s favor. So are they worth the added cost? In my humble opinion, yes they are. If nothing else than for the ease of migrating from an old computer to a new one. I know there are some well regarded third party migration utilities out there (AlohaBob’s PC Relocator has often been suggested to me — I should give it a try some time), but if Apple can do such a good job with it, why can’t Microsoft?

  • Mike

    Talk about Troll-bait !

    Did you read either of these articles?
    Average selling price of a PC covers all of the absolute dross that some manufacturers put out in order to have a low headline price. Apple has never done cheap crap, and probably never will, so like it says in the article, this is comparing Apples with oranges, or more to the point Lemons, as most PC’s these days come with Vista pre-loaded, which is seen by many as a major handicap.

  • Jeff

    “Macs are twice as expensive” is like comparing apples and oranges. If you buy an economy PC, yes, a Mac will be more. I was looking into this, and an HP equivalent to a MacBook was only $10 less.

    It is easy to say Macs cost more, but you are getting better hardware. Apple is not going to put cheap, crappy hardware inside their machines – they are above that.

  • Tom

    You hit the nail on the head with the very reason why I don’t own a MAC any longer. There not worth twice the expense.

  • John B

    I’ve also seen a couple of recent studies that indicated that *similarly-configured* systems weren’t that far apart, perhaps only a couple hundred dollars. So, as Jeff said, stop comparing (A/a)pples and oranges to try to make your point.

    Also, on the AlohaBob’s thing, that’s old info. I used to use it myself, once I found it. But a while back they were bought and assimilated by Microsoft. What remains is the MS transfer tools. I don’t know if the old versions of AB would work with Vista. Never tried. But you’re stuck with MS tools now. What they don’t innovate, they assimilate, or litigate out of existence.

  • John B

    I also wanted to add that Apples have some residual value for several years. PCs become near valueless doorstops in short order. One can check that for themselves on ebay.

  • Bill G

    Hello. McFly!!!!!!!! Checking eBay for prices of Macs only proves that they are overpriced. Naturally people that have purchased these systems want to try and recoupe some of that hard earned cash they dropped on the thing in the first place.

  • John B

    The point is that they not only *ask* for a particular price, but they *get* them. If they asked a particular price, and didn’t sell them, *that* would prove that they weren’t worth it. Since they *do* get more for a used Mac than any used PC, it would seem that there’s a substantial consensus that they *are* worth something much longer than a PC. A similarly-configured PC at that point would still command a lesser price.

  • Randy Allen

    Hi, Matt. You are correct in that migration from an older Mac to a new one is a lot easier than the same route on PCs. I have found the PC migration works if there isn’t very much data to move. In most cases, I end up doing it manually, because Microsoft’s tools are too unreliable. The new Mac process is also quicker. I can do a new Mac in half a day, where the PC takes a full day. A lot of this has to do with software updates.

    I agree that it is a whole lot more fun unboxing a new Mac. Every thing is much more elegant, right down to the cleaning cloth included. All parts are wrapped in plastic and appear to be virginal, untouched by human hands, waiting just for you.

    As far as the price, like most people said, it’s comparing Apples to oranges. If you put a PC together with the same parts, the price will be close to the same for both. Also, you can upgrade to new versions of OS X for a lot less than Vista. The same goes for all Apple software. iHome and iWork are both the same price, and a lot cheaper than Microsoft.