The $350 Apple vs. Dell Debate

What you get with the Apple Mac Duo is added value; what you get with the Dell Duo is a hefty discount.

George Ou at ZDNet likes to incite virtual riots with his blog, and he doesn’t disappoint this week. His entry ‘Dude’! The Mac Duo is almost $1000 more! managed to poke fun at Dell, insult Apple users, and spread uncertainty and doubt all at once:

Apple lovers will always feel that the extra money is well spent and they will always believe they have the superior product. PC shoppers with more realistic budgets will always prefer the cheaper product (with mostly superior specifications) that can run all of their existing software. The difference is that the latter will always outnumber the former by more than 10 to 1. Apple has always managed to charge a premium for their hardware because of superior branding and a diehard fan base, but they will always be priced out of the main stream.

The problem with George’s analysis is that the Dell Duo, similarly outfitted as the new Intel-based Mac Duo, is only $350 less, not $1,000 less. He admits to using a $650 discount coupon for Dell — a discount that’s not available from Apple. So in reality, he’s comparing discounts. The coupon can only be used once, so it’s not a fair comparison. Sure, you can find it on the Web, and a new one pops up every six weeks, according to George (he mentions Gotapex.com). As I write this, George updated his blog to point out that you can also get a 5% discount for the Mac Duo configuration (talk to educateme at www.itvelociti.com), bringing the difference down to $942. Still, I think a list price comparison is better.

That leaves us with a $350 difference (or less), but George neglects to mention that the Apple comes with a lot of free software that’s not free in Windows — such as iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWork, iWeb, and GarageBand (useful for creating podcasts). He neglects to mention Apple’s built-in iSight video camera and iChat AV, or Front Row to navigate through media from anywhere in the room — turning a notebook into an excellent home media machine. And you would need to add higher-resolution screen capability to the Dell for comparable resolution. And, of course, Apple has a better operating system — no contest.

George’s comment about the “diehard fan base” misses the point: Windows people are indeed switching to the Mac. They are not diehard Apple fans, having only recently converted. For example, my favorite among the comments, posted by Anon_ymous, makes the point well:

I’ve used Intel/AMD Windows Machines for years, all flavors and brands and the business of supporting them pays nicely. I’ve never had much interest in Apple, but last year bought an iPod. Slowly after visiting the Apple Store several times, I became more interesteed in the Apple Laptop line and bought a Powerbook G4 15″. The design, form, function, ergonomics…and of course the OS, was so superior to anything HP/Dell/Acer/Sony/ had, I was hooked.

I don’t care if I am paying more; Windows OS and the Hardware designers are living in the Stone Age compared to Apple’s designs.

Fanning the flames of discontent over Apple’s smugness and marketing acumen, George eventually got around to insulting Mac users in his comment to a comment, displaying the anti-consumer bias of the industry priesthood that keeps Microsoft in business:

I never said you shouldn’t buy an Apple. There are plenty of advantages for it that some people can justify the price difference and others can’t. The point is that most people can’t afford it and they don’t think of buying a laptop as a gucci t-shirt because it’s just a tool. Others who are more conscious of fashion do feel the Apple brand is worth the money, and they probably like the fact that not every has or can afford a Mac because it makes them special.

Now, isn’t that special?

Many of the Apple-haters I’ve met within the computer industry — as opposed to the Apple-agnostic — are people who essentially make a living with their expertise on the complexity (and lack of security) of the Windows environment. They know which side their bread is buttered.

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The $350 Apple vs. Dell Debate — 1 Comment

  1. One other piece of software that you’ll need with a Windows PC that is “free” with a Mac is some sort of antivirus/security software. Many Windows PC come with an evaluation version of Norton Antivirus. To get the full version is $40. To renew your antivirus subscription is $30 annually. Over a 3 year lifespan of a Windows PC, that’s an extra $100 to add to the cost, unless you’re so insane that you run Windows without an antivirus program.

    The reason that this is “free” with a Mac is because of the Unix underpinnings and more secure default setup, one doesn’t need to get an anitvirus program.

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