Once and for all, proof that Macs are cheaper than PCs
Let's put to rest the myth that an Apple computer will set you back more than a Windows PC. In fact, it'll cost you less.
By Farhad Manjoo
It's time to buy an Apple computer. Indeed, it's been that time for the past five years, at least, but only now, slowly, are people waking up to this fact. Thanks to Apple's relentless flash -- the John Hodgman ads, the iPods, the iPhones -- its Macintosh business is now in league with that of the biggest PC companies in the world. Everyone who's used it agrees that Leopard, the operating system that Apple released late last month, is to its chief rival, Microsoft's Windows Vista, roughly as Richard Wagner is to Richard Marx. This simple truth is dawning: If we forget about computer-industry network effects and monopolistic business practices, if we forget Apple's various ancient missteps -- if we're going just by what's better -- the ages-old Mac-vs.-PC debate is over. Long over. Yell it from the rooftops: The Mac has won.
And yet, you're not buying an Apple computer. Most of the world isn't. There is probably a single overwhelming reason you're clinging to Windows. Macs are expensive. This is what you've been told, and in your research, it's seemed to check out. If they acknowledge it at all, Mac fans will rationalize the higher prices by noting that you're paying for quality. Buying a Mac, folks say, is like buying a BMW (Apple CEO Steve Jobs regularly compares the Mac's market share with that of German luxury cars). But what if you don't want the BMW of PCs? What if you can only afford a Chevrolet?
The present article is an attempt to prove to you that, on price alone, the Mac is not the BMW of computers. It is the Ford of computers. I am not arguing that the Mac is cheaper only if you consider the psychic benefits conferred by its quality. Rather I'm going to illustrate something more straightforward: Even though you may pay a slight premium at the cash register for a Mac over a comparable Windows PC (a premium that gets slighter all the time), it will cost you less money -- real, honest-to-goodness American dollars -- to own that Mac than to own that PC.
Why this should be has to do with an economic truth that has not recently mattered much in the computer industry, but that, in an age of eBay and unyielding obsolescence, is now crucial. It is resale value. Macs fetch far more on the aftermarket than do PCs -- and after years of use, you can offset that cash-register premium by selling your Mac for a better price than you could your PC.