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Mailbag: Is Apple Overpriced?, More

Apple overpriced? A few readers think that's an issue worth some debate:

I do not own an Apple. However, my impression has always been that Apple chooses quality and reliable components, which causes the higher prices. Are they overpriced? Is a BMW overpriced? They are certainly HIGHER priced...but OVERpriced? Only if they do not deliver value. If a computer crashes less and lasts longer, but is priced higher, there could be value there, even for an enterprise. How much is your time worth to troubleshoot goofy crashes, root out spyware and viruses, and/or re-image the machine?

Again, this is just my impression, not based on any facts, as I do not own an Apple. But sometimes I am envious of those that do (especially when I am staring at a Blue Screen of Death).

You seem to be forgetting that Apple is a hardware company that writes software so it can sell its hardware. Microsoft is a software company that designs some hardware so it can sell its software (Lord knows, it has yet to make a dime off the hardware). So I say: Microsoft's software is overpriced because it's from a single source. And as the King of Windows, Office and Xbox games, Microsoft rules with an iron fist. Microsoft should be more like Apple and open source its OS like Darwin is.

As for the Mac beings overpriced, that's comparing Apples to, well, PCs. Apple computers are for those who value quality over price and are willing to pay for it. Top-shelf products always cost more.

Jobs sells a premium product to an exclusive and remarkably loyal customer base (how many iPods do you own?). Sure, his computers are overpriced. So are his music players. So what? His customers keep coming back. Why? Because Jobs is selling sex -- as surely as if he ran Victoria's Secret! In truth, the iMac is no more expensive than a comparably equipped Dell -- but Dell also sells entry-level hardware that can do everything the average user needs for it to do. For most people, an iMac is simply overkill.

Apple is in a Catch-22. It cannot offer hardware at entry-level price points because it doesn't sell enough hardware to be able to absorb the extremely small profit margins at those price points. Nor can it get its production levels up high enough to tolerate the narrow margins without first lowering its prices dramatically. If Apple were to change itself into a software house, allowing users to put Mac OS X on everyone's Intel box, it would get their license numbers up but destroy its hardware business. If you think this would be a good idea, look what happened to NeXT computers, Jobs' other venture. Jobs decided a long time ago to leave the mass market to his geeky counterpart at Microsoft -- and take as much of the premium market for himself as he could -- almost entirely through brilliant marketing.

Speaking of marketing, Coleen thinks the new Microsoft ads are an improvement...but the Mojave ads are another story:

I do like the new "I'm a PC" ads better than what had come before. Quirky wasn't working, and by the end of one evening of watching (admittedly) a lot of television, I was quickly sick of the strange Seinfeld ad.

The "Mojave" ads are seriously getting on my nerves, though. The biggest part of Vista's problems has to do with its lack of compatibility with existing drivers. In my admittedly anecdotal experience, even drivers that are designed for Vista can cause devices like printers to lose some of the functionality they once had. Granted, that's the manufacturer's fault, but it's been so rampant that Vista has gotten an ugly reputation. Putting people in a room with computers that Microsoft has chosen and pre-installed with Vista is not a realistic way to judge the product.

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on September 30, 2008 at 11:52 AM


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