Explore:


|Home/Opinions |Opinion Archives |Second Opinion |Open Forums |Sig Archives |NewsFactor
|OS News |Top Tech News |Newsletters |Cartoon |About |Submit Opinion
OPINION:
What Price Apples?

Send this Article
Print this Article
Contributed by Stanislav Kelman
osOpinion.com
March 5, 2001


When the numbers are crunched, the price difference between PCs and Macs is not what might be expected.

In This Story:

Apples to Oranges

The Low End

The High End

Fun Cubed

A few days ago I came across a rather stereotypical comment by Richard Gardner, a Salomon Smith Barney research analyst. He was quoted saying that Apple's "Power Mac desktop offerings are now up to 35 percent more expensive than comparably equipped systems from Dell." His remarks prompted me to revisit the age-old topic of Mac vs. PC pricing.

The origin of this alleged percentage difference is pretty transparent. If you take the lowest priced iMac at $899 and compare it to the cheapest Dell Dimension model at $679, the cost difference is indeed equal to 32.4 percent. For extra impact, this number can be conveniently rounded up to 35 pecent.

I wish that market analysis could be as straightforward as Gardner makes it sound.

Apples to Oranges

In reality, it is rather difficult to objectively compare different computer architectures side-by-side. While certain features, such as hard drive sizes or CD-RW functionality, can be compared directly, dealing with processor speeds is rather tricky.

For instance, few people would contest the fact that an "entry-level" SGI O2 workstation rated at 300 MHz can run circles around a $500 Windows PC rated at twice the speed. Similarly, megahertz for megahertz, PowerPC G3 and G4 chips are undeniably faster than their Intel Celeron and Pentium III counterparts clocked at the same level.

Still, Apple computers are not "twice as fast." But in my own experience, Power Macs rated at about two-thirds of the speed of their Intel-based counterparts perform just about as well. You might dispute this assumption all you want, but I just had to draw the line somewhere, and this is it.

Below you will find a set of comparisons between Apple machines and their equivalents from various major PC makers. Detailed specs can be found here.

The Low End

Let's first match the newly introduced "Flower Power" mid-range iMac against Compaq Presario 5000, a popular consumer model. A 500 MHz iMac outfitted with 128 MB of RAM and a CD-RW drive will set you back about $1,299. A comparably equipped Presario with an 850 MHz Duron and a TNT2 video card can be had for about $1,057, which means that the iMac commands a 23 percent premium. Groovy colors notwithstanding, the iMac is no bargain.

The iBook, however, is a different story altogether. The basic "Indigo" model is sold for just $1,499, while a comparable Gateway Solo 5300cs retails for about $50 less. But the latter ships with mediocre S3 Savage video and no built-in Ethernet capability. Considering the unique rugged design of the iBook and the fact that it can be upgraded with a wireless AirPort card, the 3.5 percent price difference is really a non-issue.

The High End

I was particularly interested in the value offered by the multiprocessor Power Mac G4, so I selected Dell's Precision Workstation 420 for comparison. It turns out that for just about the same amount that Apple charges for its dual 533 MHz machine, Dell offers a dual 800 MHz Pentium III. For around $2,699, you could get either one with 256 MB of RAM, 40 GB of storage, and a CD-RW drive. These are "bare-bones" machines. No monitor. No speakers. No modem. Just raw processing power.

There are a few notable differences between the two. Apple includes a Radeon DDR card, while Dell comes with an arguably more powerful GeForce2 GTS. On the other hand, gigabit Ethernet is only available from the fruit company. And yes, you can save $6 if you order from Dell. That amounts to a whopping 0.22 percent in savings!

As for PowerBooks, let's compare those to Sony laptops just like Steve Jobs does. The closest thing to a $2,599 400 MHz Apple is a $2,225 Sony Vaio FX150 with a 750 MHz PIII. However, the price differential of just under 17 percent is more than justified. Remarkably, the PowerBook is much thinner than the Vaio and almost 2 pounds lighter.

It is also blessed with a larger and better screen that supports higher resolutions, thanks to a superior video adapter. Not to mention the titanium casing.

Fun Cubed

Here's the tricky one. In my opinion, when it comes to raw sex appeal, nothing compares to the G4 Cube.

But if anything comes close, it's just gotta be NetVista X40i from IBM. When judging a $2,299 all-in-one 800 MHz NetVista against a 500 MHz Cube with a 15-inch flat panel screen priced at $2,498, it is important to keep in mind that the Cube is clearly a far better conversation piece.

In addition to that, Apple once again includes a more powerful video card, which is also upgradeable. Considering the target market, a price difference of less than 9 percent is not a big deal.

On average, Apple's offerings are about 10 percent more expensive, a far cry from Mr. Gardner's alleged 35 percent. And, in all cases but one, the premium price can be easily justified. Still, old stereotypes die hard.

Talkback Forum


Author's background:
Stanislav Kelman is an avid computer user who is trying his best to fight stereotypes. He maintains a list of his past technology-related editorials on TechOpinion.org. He also invites you to visit LetItBe.org , a site where you can learn more about him than you might care to know. Stanislav would love to hear your reaction to his opinion columns, so feel free to drop him a line at osOpinion@LetItBe.org

Why should seasoned journalists have all the fun?
Have YOUR Tech/OS Opinion featured on OSO!


 

Sponsored Links
Reach Thousands of Tech Savvy Pros with NewsFactor Newsletters!
Need the right tools for your e-business? Click here.

Live Tech News Updates
See for yourself. Click here.

Click here for Linux news.


Real-Time
Technology News
Updated Every
5 Minutes
24 Hours a Day
NewsFactor.com
E-Commerce Times
TechNewsWorld
CRMDaily.com
Linux Insider
WirelessNewsFactor
osOpinion
TechExtreme
FreeNewsFeed.com

Click here for today's tech cartoon!
Daily Cartoon


January 10, 2002



New iMac Lives Up to the Hype
Full Story

Just What is Gigawire, Anyway?
Full Story

21st Century Tech Strategy War: Apple vs. Microsoft
Full Story

AOL Sends Microsoft's .NET an 'AOL Alert'
Full Story

Tech Cartoon
Just for Fun

Microsoft Seeks To Bar Public from Depositions
Full Story

iPhoto Makes Working with Pictures Fun Again
Full Story

Companies Unveil New Technologies at Electronics Show
Full Story

Online Customer Support Strategies Take Center Stage
Full Story

Tech Cartoon
Just for Fun

Will Apple Roll Out New High-End G5s In March?
Full Story

Apple's Aqua To Trigger a Consumer Backlash?
Full Story

Gates 'Hitting Apple Where It Hurts'
Full Story

Tech Cartoon
Just for Fun

Apple's Extraordinary Macworld Expo
Full Story

Apple Introduces Flat-Panel G4 iMac
Full Story

Alleged Microsoft Memo: Windows is Cheaper Than Linux
Full Story

Just Say No to Internet Micropayments
Full Story

Tech Cartoon
Just for Fun

The Napster Facelift - Strings Attached
Full Story

Macworld Expo 2002 - The Hype vs. The Hooey
Full Story

Rumors Swirl Ahead of Macworld 2002: A Move to Intel?
Full Story

Tech Cartoon
Just for Fun

Best Way To Save the Be, Inc. Operating System
Full Story

What's the Use of Managing Bandwidth?
Full Story

Satellite Radio: Will Drivers Tune In?
Full Story

Tech Cartoon
Just for Fun

An Insecure Feeling About Microsoft's Security
Full Story

The Dissing of IT Workers
Full Story

Tech Cartoon
Just for Fun

Many Windows XP Users Slow to Patch Security Hole
Full Story


More Opinions

Get news by e-mail

Visit open forums



Alt Text
osOpinion.com
Front Page | OS News | Open Forums | Cool Sites | Opinion Archives | Daily Sigs
Article Reprint Information | FAQs | Friends of OSOpinion
 
Other NewsFactor Network Sites
NewsFactor Portal | E-Commerce Times | TechNewsWorld | Linux Insider | Wireless NewsFactor
osOpinion | allEC | CRM Daily

FreeNewsFeed | Free Newsletters

Business Development | How To Advertise | How To Contact Us | About NewsFactor Network
 

1998-2002 Triad Commerce Group, LLC. All rights reserved. See Terms of Use and Privacy notice.