Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Apples and oranges - the Mac vs. PC price comparison

Image from Michael Johnson/TheBusyBrain under a Creative Commons License

Arik Hesseldahl of BusinessWeek recently crunched some numbers and features regarding Macs and PCs. Hesseldahl started by mentioning a recent Microsoft commercial:

Then came Lauren, the perky, red-haired twentysomething meant to represent an average American shopping for a computer. She wants a notebook with a 17-in. screen, and if she finds it for less than $1,000, she can keep it. Following her as she shops, we learn she considers the Mac too expensive—that she's not "cool enough to be a Mac person," she whines. From the Apple store, it's off to Best Buy (BBY), where she finds a PC that meets her specifications for $699. Mission accomplished, she jumps up and down clapping as though she won on The Price Is Right, ending the spot by saying "I'm a PC, and I got just what I wanted."

But when you delve down into things, Hesseldahl found some differences:

Yes, $699 beats the $2,800 you'd pay for a Mac with a 17-in. screen. But when it comes to PCs, there's still a great deal more to buy.

First, there's security software. The PC in question comes with a 60-day trial Norton Internet Security 2009 from Symantec (SYMC). After the trial runs out you'll pay Symantec $50 a year to protect your PC (and up to two others in your home) from all the nasty viruses, worms, and other malware lurking on the Internet. That's $150 over the three years Lauren is likely to hold on to her PC. No need for antivirus on the Mac.

Then Best Buy's Geek Squad diagnosis is compared against Genius Bar diagnosis, and Apple's iLife is compared against a comparable bundle.

Add it all up and it's not hard to imagine Lauren's $699 computer costing something closer to $1,500.

More here.

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