Subscription software is all the rage these days. Microsoft has it with Office 365. Pay a monthly fee and get Office everywhere plus 1TB of online storage. Adobe has similar packages with Creative Cloud Suite and Photoshop combined with Lightroom. Use the apps forever and get free upgrades as long as you pay the monthly fee.
Similar subscription packages are showing up on the App Store, too, and Apple has something to match it with the iPhone Upgrade Program. Pay the monthly fee, get a new iPhone with AppleCare every year.
What about the Mac?
It’s one thing to buy a new Mac on credit and pay by the month, but a Mac isn’t software, and the least expensive MacBook is priced well above an iPhone. Still, a Mac subscription or rental service makes sense and there is precedent. Microsoft is doing it.
Microsoft’s Surface line has been around only a few years and with mixed results. Surface sales have been going down the past year or so, and Consumer Reports just issued a No Recommendation thanks to reliability problems on popular models.
The Microsoft Surface Plus program lets you buy a new Surface and trade it in every 18 months. The models include Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and couple of Surface Book models. The Surface Book model is most like the MacBook Pro. I configured the device to include the following but using Microsoft’s built-in financing plan for 24-months:
- Intel 7th gen Core i7 CPU
- 13-inch high resolution display
- 16GB RAM
- 1TB SSD storage
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
- Standard 1-year Limited Warranty
The total price is $2,699.02, and monthly payments came to $112.46 per month with 0-percent APR.
A similarly configured MacBook Pro on the Apple Store weighs in at $2,699, the same as Microsoft Surface book.
The incentive is in the payment structure. Microsoft’s Surface Plus program does not charge interest which is 0-percent APR, so obviously the interest is picked up by Microsoft as a discount to the Surface model. Apple doesn’t care whether you use cash or credit card, but discounts occur here and there online and at retail stores.
While configuring the MacBook Pro I noticed a link to 24-months of special financing, in this case, Barclaycard which also comes with points, and with no interest if paid in full within the promo period, which is based upon the purchase amount; 6 months for less than $499, but up to 24 months for $1,4999 and over.
Typical credit cards, the Barclaycard deal also has APR from 14.99-percent to 27.99-percent. Ouch.
So, why doesn’t Apple do a Mac Upgrade Program to match iPhone? Typically, I keep a Mac about 4-5 years before making it a hand-me-down to younger relatives, but I would go for an annual or every two year upgrade program for a notebook.
Apple can afford it.