Macs are more expensive than Windows PCs, right? Everyone knows that. But is it true? Short of conducting a five year experiment where you use a MacBook Pro and a Surface Book side-by-side with the same applications, we’ll need a third party survey to give us the scoop.
The survey was conducted by Consumer Reports and the end result is as it has been for years. Macs are more reliable. What does that have to do with price vs. cost?
Price is what you pay to buy a product. Cost is the add-on expenses in time, repairs, maintenance, insurance, or anything else included during the period of use, including the amount obtained when selling a used product and deducting the amount from the initial price and ongoing costs.
For example, let’s take a new MacBook Pro and compare it to the latest Microsoft Surface Book notebook running Windows 10. And let’s assume that most of the usage is email, web browsing, Microsoft Office and a few of the apps in Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite (Photoshop, Lightroom, et al).
The upfront price tag is $1,499 for a Surface Book with 128GB SSD storage and an Intel Core i5 CPU with 8GB of RAM. Actual Apple to apples comparisons are difficult, but a 13-inch MacBook Pro with 8GB RAM, Intel i5 CPU, and 256GB SSD storage is $1,499. If the software is the same, and usage is similar, what’s the different in price?
What’s the difference in cost?
Therein lies the game to play. Macs tend to have much higher resale value than comparable Windows PCs, so whatever the resale price is can be deducted from the overall cost of using the device.
Microsoft does not sell many Windows PC notebooks, especially when compared to the Mac or other PC brands, including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Asus, and others. Yet, Consumer Reports keeps track and the top laptop– which includes the MacBook and MacBook Pro line– Apple tops Samsung, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Asus by a wide margin on reliability.
What about Mac desktops– iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro– vs Windows PC desktops? It’s much the same thing. Apple’s Mac leads in reliability with numbers similar to the notebook lines. Apple leads by far, everyone else fights for second place.
Also included in the overall cost of ownership is the amount of time and effort and frequency to repair a computer, which includes support. Again, according to many thousands of Consumer Reports readers, Apple leads by a wide margin thanks to devices that require less support, and access to a Genius Bar in the Apple Store. Interestingly, Microsoft’s score for problem solving was similar to Apple, but far less on overall support efforts. All those Apple Stores make a difference.
One can make an argument that ‘you get what you pay for‘ but in the case of owning and using a Mac, you get more than you pay for, even if the initial price is somewhat higher than a comparable Windows PC, either notebook or desktop. The Mac’s reliability is higher while the overall average total cost of ownership for comparable hardware is lower (thanks in part to higher resale value, fewer customer support costs, and the lack of similar malware).
It isn’t just Mac users and Consumer Reports that thinks so highly of using a Mac vs. a Windows PC. Last year IBM said it costs three times more to manage a Windows PC than a Mac. IBM started a massive switch to the Mac a few years ago and Big Blue says it saves from $264 to $535 for each Mac deployed.
IBM says merely 5-percent of the Mac users need help with their built-in help desk while 40-percent of the PC staff require help.
There is and always has been a difference between a product’s price and total cost of ownership, but it’s becoming more obvious day by day that Apple’s premium position and products that are considered affordable luxuries are also time and money savers.