Monday, June 8, 2009

Common Myth #2

Common Myth #2: Apple costs too much and is a luxury laptop.

I have heard people say that Apple is the luxury machine that is too expensive. This is true in the sense that they do not offer a budget model that appeals to a cheaper market like many other manufacturers such as Dell, HP, or Compaq. But this is a bit bogus because it is not comparing apples to apples...(pardon the pun).

I have also heard individuals say that they can get a Windows-based PC spec for spec cheaper than an Apple. Again, I would tend to agree. If you get the exact same processor speed, RAM, memory, etc., Apple will not be the cheapest.

So it appears that Apple is 0 for 2 and perhaps they are too expensive. However, before I draw that conclusion, we need to take the operating system (OS) into account. To run Windows Vista, Microsoft said you could do it with 512 MB of RAM. They later revised that to something more like 1 GB. If you do some internet reading on the subject, you will find that you can "get by" with 2 GB of RAM but any serious user will probably want 4 GB for the Vista experience. For the record, Windows XP is fine and runs well off of 2 GB. Regardless, to perform adequately with graphics and multimedia, more speed and higher specs are needed. Overall, the whole computer market is seeking to "lighten up" their operating systems with Windows 7 and Apple's Snow Leopard. Whether or not this will really happen remains to be seen and this is good for everyone no matter what computer you have.

As a whole, the Mac OS is a lighter OS than Windows. It does not require the system resources in terms of RAM or memory. As a result, the specs on a Windows machine needs to be higher than that of an Apple for the same performance. This definitely varies by use. Multimedia is a good benchmark because it requires heavy resources and the Apple can handle more on less. As a result, the spec for spec comparison doesn't work out because I can't buy the same machine and run either system on it. Well, with the Apple, I can run both Windows & the Mac OS with Boot Camp or Parallels, but then I need to consider the specs needed to run both.

As a school here in Korea, the real question is what does a good student machine that runs for 3-4 years reliably cost? I am uncomfortable posting our prices in this public forum and will keep those within our community. However, I have found over the last 6 months that Dell, our previous supplier cannot compete with a comparable model at the same price. Context makes a big difference and this may not be true around the world. But in Korea, we are actually saving money, anywhere from $100-200 per computer by using Apples compared to our Dell prices. This is a comparison of the selected base models we recommend to students for either manufacturer. Prices definitely fluctuate, especially with the rapid changes in exchange rates in recent months. Overall, I would predict our student machines with Apple are cheaper right now but will probably break about even in the long run. Our goal is to offer a good student laptop for $1000-1200 USD equivalent and make it a good machine that will last a student 3-4 years. My interaction with other 1:1 laptop schools show this to be common practice and cost to students and parents.

Overall, I'm not saying Dell prices are unreasonable, but it does show that by choosing Apple, we aren't necessarily investing in the "Cadillac" of laptops. Don't get me wrong, I like Cadillacs...but I don't think this myth is an accurate representation of reality for us in our context.

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