Saturday, December 30, 2006

I came to a conclusion about Mac pricing just now

For about a week, a friend and I have been debating in email the finer points of Mac pricing vs. PC pricing. I argued that PCs are commodity machines and will always be cheaper unless the configuration is exactly what Apple configures them at, since they have control over their own volume pricing. He argued that Macs are better price for the quality. I argued that no one pays full price for Dell. Blah blah blah, yada yada yada.

Then I just realized something: Macs should be cheaper. That's right! They should be cheaper because you can't do as much with them as you can with a PC. They're not the standard. Macs are not the platform that 90% of the world's custom software is written for, or run office on, or play games on. They don't even come with a 2 button mouse or Windows pre-installed.

According to my calculations, about 73.4% of my daily work can't be done on a Mac. At home, 26.7% of my leisure time can't be done on a Mac (games and Xbox media connect). Averaging those out, I should only have to pay about 57.5% for a Mac as I would for a PC. But does a Mac cost that? No. Actually, it costs nearly the same or more as most PCs I'd buy. Ergo, the Mac is not worth it. Quod erat demonstrandum.

ps - Most of this is meant to be a joke, but it is true that I feel I'd get more done with Windows.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if current Macintoshes are as incapable as you suggest. Certainly with Boot Camp this gap has narrowed significantly, though the lack of certain buttons is a problem.

I do like your logic, though -- Windows Vista could use some price cuts, too. After all, I do almost everything in Visual Studio 2005, and Vista broke about half of it.

Trimbo said...

Anon, what did Vista break with VS 2005? I haven't had any issues with that combination. Or are you doing Xbox development (I've heard this has had some recent issues)?

But you have a great point about Vista pricing. One of the biggest monopolistic things about Windows is that while the price of hardware has gone down, the price of Windows has gone up. Granted, Windows does a lot more than it did circa version 3.1. Microsoft has supplied more APIs, media center, etc.

I guess in that respect, Mac and Linux have not done a very good job at trying to keep the beast in check price wise. While hardware has become commodity to the extreme (I bought a cool laptop for $750 earlier this year), the OS to use it just went up by an extra $200 (for Vista Ultimate).

As far as BootCamp goes... I can't take that seriously until Windows comes preinstalled on a Mac. I don't want to use an OS on a piece of hardware that the vendor treats as the ugly stepchild.

Anonymous said...

The main problems with VS2005 are that JIT debugging is hosed and the UI in general is very slow compared to the same machine running XP. In fact, that's been my general impression of Vista after trying to use it on a real machine -- lots of stuff I'm used to is broken and the machine is slower.

As for the price of Windows having gone up, I'm not sure if that's really the case. It's hard to find pertinent data, but I saw one site claiming that Windows 1.0 sold for $100 (~$180 with inflation). Given the general rising complexity of software I don't think the difference is surprising. The problem is that most of what's new in recent versions of Windows isn't needed by most people, and so the OS is getting more bloated.

Trimbo said...

Weird on the JIT issue. I guess I haven't done enough debugging on Vista to know yet. The VS 2005 UI is just slow in general. The help system is sooooo slow. I like VS 2005 a lot, and I certainly like .NET 2.0 more than 1.1, but it has always seemed slower to me. Does SP1 help any of these issues (BTW, SP1 messes up Xbox 360 development, I know that for sure).

Pricing is a tricky issue, you're right. There are more features in Windows, but how about the licenses for people who just want to browse the web and read email, download songs to their iTunes? This is the extent that my in-laws use their PC, and I just spent $150 buying them a new Windows license.

Their PC died, and one of their relatives replaced the motherboard and installed a Windows license that turned out to be counterfeit. Genuine Advantage wouldn't leave them alone until either they bought a license or reinstalled Windows. Since their original Dell motherboard was gone, re-activating the XP Home version on their original HDD didn't fly (the activation code was invalid and required Dell's help). I assumed that Dell restore disks wouldn't work either on the new hardware.

So the choice was to either buy the WGA license for $150 or XP Home for $199. Neither is much of a deal considering they had a Windows license that was now no good to them.

I guess this is the situation where I think "Windows is too expensive." It's not expensive for you and me, since we get a lot out of Windows license. But imagine being poor in this country buying a bargain basement PC for $200. The cheapest Windows license you could buy is $199. It's no wonder there's an extreme amount of pirating in the third world.