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?