Computer price wars won't hurt the Mac
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Computer price wars won't hurt the Mac

Jonny Evans of "Computerworld" recently pondered ( whether an impending price war between computer vendors such as Acer and Lenova will hurt Mac sales. I don't think so.

"In truth, this is a game Apple's been fighting a long, long, long, long time. Apple's Macs have never been the cheapest on the market, and even that short-term commitment to a sub-$500 Mac with the Mac mini and (earlier) the education-only eMac did little to dissuade PC purchasers that the company's kit is pricier than most," writes Evans.

However, when it comes to the Mac, as with all Apple products, most folks are willing to pay a little more for better quality. Mac sales have increased at record rates even during this dismal global economy. During the 12 months that ended in late June, the Mac brand achieved an impressive 22.86% gain in revenue for a total of $20.38 billion.

Apple sold 3.76 million Macs in its fiscal 2011 second quarter, which is 28% growth from the year-ago quarter. That's particularly impressive considering that the overall computer market contracted 3% in that period, according to the IDC research group. This was the 20th consecutive quarter that the Mac has outgrown the PC market overall.

And, in talking about the back-to-school buying season, Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis with NPD Group, told "AppleInsider" ( that Apple's year-over-year growth seen this summer was aided by weak comparisons from sales in 2010. "Apple grew much faster than the Windows notebook market did," he said.

What's more, I'd argue that Macs are more expensive than PCs, at least in the long run. Last year in a talk with the folks at the The Enterprise Desktop Alliance (EDA) -- an organization designed to help IT departments integrate Macs into the corporate environment -- I found that their studies show that, while the initial cost of buying a Mac may be more than Windows systems, the long-term cost is a different story.

When it comes to Macs, the initial cost of purchase is higher, but the TCO (total cost of ownership) is less.

TCO s a financial estimate designed to help consumers and enterprise managers assess direct and indirect costs. It's a form of full cost accounting. When you figure in ease of use, less malware/viruses/spyware/etc. than on Windows, lower IT costs, ease of use, bundled software and more, Macs are, in the long run, a better buy.

In fact, a 2007 report noted that, when it comes to Macs verses PCs, the old adage that Macs are more expensive than PCs just isn't true -- unless you're looking at sub-US$600 systems -- which is, admittedly, what Evans was doing, at least in part. And a a 2006 report by Daniel Day Eran of "Roughly Drafted" concluded that owning and using Windows is five times more expensive than the Mac OS.

There may be more recent studies on TCO, but I'm not aware of them. However, Macs have come down at least a little in price since those articles were written. The question is, when purchasing technology, do you want to pay now or pay later? Except for the initial purchase price, straight financial considerations aside, when it comes to Windows, you'll pay both now and later.

-- Dennis Sellers


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