Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Apple Strategy: Pay attention to what matters

It is common knowledge that Macbooks are significantly more expensive than comparable PC laptops. A quick glance at the Apple store demonstrates just how much more expensive. A 17" Macbook Pro starts at $2499. For comparison to PCs, a 17" Alienware Gaming PC with the same processor, same amount of memory and better video card will cost you $2124, more than $300 less. And everyone knows Alienwares are overpriced. The upgrades to a Macbook Pro are particularly overpriced: Bumping up your processor speed by .2 GHz will cost you $300 extra. Seem a little pricey, especially since a Core 2 Duo from Newegg.com at 3.0 GHz only costs $167.99 in the first place. And that Memory upgrade? 8GB of memory for a Macbook Pro only costs $470.99, and they'll charge you $600 to put that in instead of 4GB, which is probably worth $100-$200 itself. (Similar upgrades to the Alienware cost substantially less, though they still seem quite overpriced to me).

What lets Apple charge so much for their products? Duh, it's supply and demand. Supply is limited by their monopoly, demand is driven up by. . . what, exactly?

What makes Macs so popular? That question has been plaguing PC manufacturers for several years now. Sure it has a lot to do with their flashy advertising campaigns, but it's mostly because all of design focus went into the input and output systems: the components with which users actually interact.

Think about it: all of the input devices on a Macbook Pro are extra-high quality and well designed. The microphone, the webcam, the keyboard, the touchpad; they're all far superior to anything I've ever used on any PC laptop. The speakers as well have much better sound reproduction than any other laptop speakers I've heard. The case design is, of course, legendary. So even though their computing hardware is nothing special (their high end laptops are still using the Core 2 Duo, for crying out loud!), consumers perceive them as being top-of-the-line hardware. (I could write another entire post on their software). It's all about the interface, my friends.

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