NPD: Macs cost twice as much as Windows PCs on average

On Tuesday, eWeek’s Joe Wilcox contacted Stephen Baker, NPD’s vice president of industry analysis, about computer average selling prices (ASP) at retail.

“The ASP for Mac desktops is more than $1,000 greater than for Windows PCs, and Mac desktop ASPs were higher in June than they were two years ago,” Wilcox reports.

Wilcox writes, “Here’s how the midrange iMac and Dell Inspiron 518 compare, based on Apple Store and Dell online pricing:”

Apple iMac: $1,199; 2.4GHz Intel Core Duo processor, 20-inch widescreen display (integrated), 1GB DDR memory, 128MB ATI Radeon HD 2400 XT graphics, 250GB hard drive, 8x double-layer DVD burner, Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11 g Wi-Fi, Webcam and Mac OS X 10.5.

Dell Inspiron 518: $739 (after $150 instant savings); 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor, 19-inch widescreen monitor, 3GB DDR memory, Intel GMA X3100 graphics, 500GB hard drive, 8x DVD burner and Windows Vista Home Premium Service Pack 1.

MacDailyNews Note: As our readers will most certainly point out below, there’s a lot wrong with Joe’s comparison. Not the least of which is: Dell’s Inspiron 518 is a plastic tardbox with a separate monitor. Doesn’t Dell make an all-in-one to compare to Apple’s all-in-one iMac? Oh, yes, they do. It’s called the XPS One and it starts at $1299. For comparison shoppers: that’s $100 more than Apple’s iMac. The fact is, when you do it right, Apple Macs often cost less than “comparable” PCs.

Now that we have a valid comparison, please see these related articles:
• Mossberg recommends Apple iMac over Dell XPS One for several reasons – December 27, 2007
• CNET reviews Dell XPS One: Outclassed by Apple’s iMac – November 17, 2007

And, be careful with Dell’s online price quotes, Joe: Beleaguered Dell engaged in repeated misleading, deceptive and unlawful business conduct, judge says – May 28, 2008

Wilcox asks, “Which would you choose?”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mike from Atlanta” for the heads up.]

Obviously, any knowledgeable, thinking personal computer user would choose the Mac, Joe.

Comparing spec sheets is certainly a consideration, but it leaves out so many important things that it cannot and should not be used as the sole basis for making any buying decision. Other factors are at least as or more important, such as:

Which operating systems the machine can run: Macs are OS-unlimited, Dell et al. are OS-limited: no Mac OS X for you)
Which software the machine can run: Macs can run all the world’s software, Dell et al. cannot: no iLife, Final Cut, etc. for you)
• How much the machine costs you over time: Anti-virus subscriptions, support, repairs, wasted time, frustration, annual wipe and reinstall Windows, etc.: no fun for you)

Apple chooses not compete on the low end for a reason. Their shareholders expect healthy margins and Apple does not want to sully their reputation for quality:

We can’t ship junk. There are thresholds we can’t cross because of who we are. The difference is, we don’t offer stripped-down, lousy products.Apple CEO Steve Jobs, August 7, 2007

That’s why comparing average selling prices is a meaningless game. It like comparing the average menu price of a 5-star restaurant to that of McDonald’s. Instead, compare similar spec’d systems, factor in the bullet points above, and see if the Windows PC offers twice the value as a Mac. Twice the headaches, yes; twice the value, no. Remember, most Mac users have made a conscious technology choice (at one time or another, they’ve usually been stuck with Windows at work and/or school) and are therefore better informed than most Windows PC users (who have never or hardly used a modern Mac). Even if Macs really did cost double, we’d gladly pay it while considering it a steal – because we know better.

Lastly, Wilcox writes, “If Apple is going to continue its market share gains, or simply maintain that 8.5 percent U.S. share, prices must go down and configurations bulk up. The math is simply undeniable.”

No, Joe. What’s undeniable is that Macintosh, at current pricing, is already taking market share from Windows. Therefore, your argument is illogical.


  1. Yes Apple don’t ship junk. but the comparison is a fair one – 2.4Ghz core duo or quad processor; 1GB or 3GB memory; 250GB or 500GB drive. Apple computers are better made, but are pricier. No question.

  2. Obviously he does not pay his I.T. team. If he did, he would massive cost savings with Macs. Then again a lot of these guys just want to make the biggest department they can so they have the biggest budget in company…Windoze is definitely a key component of such a strategy.

    just my $0.02

  3. so it costs $400 to get a better quality larger screen, and get rid of the huge “desktop” server and get a nice all-in-one and get a better video chip.

    ….oh wait, and NOT get vista. hell i would pay $8-900 to avoid vista.

    how is the quality? fun story, friend of mine works in the uni bookstore computer dept. he says they have to reboot 2 of 6 dells every day due to crashes even though the Macs get used more. so they did a bootcamp vista install on one of their iMacs. they don’t even shut it down at night but just let it run. turns out the Mac can run vista for about a month before they have to reboot it. a typical dell, 2-3 days.

    how much is that worth?

  4. “…Wilcox writes, ‘If Apple is going to continue its market share gains, or simply maintain that 8.5 percent U.S. share, prices must go down and configurations bulk up. The math is simply undeniable.’ …”

    How is that undeniable?
    Wilcox really blows it here.
    If Apple continues its marketshare gains at its present prices, obviously the prices do not need to go down.

  5. It would help if Joe configured the Dell to at least come a little closer to the Mac standard H/W. I see he didn’t mention anything about the fact that the iMac has a built in iSight camera, FW400 and FW800 built in, Gigabit E-net, 802.11n Wi-fi, and Bluetooth. Not to mention the software that is standard on a Mac that Windows has no equivalent to. Macs are easily on par or in many cases less expensive when comparing a more even feature set.

  6. I can’t help but notice Joe compared a Desktop system to an All-in-One. I wonder why he didn’t compare iMac to XPS One? Oh maybe b/c the XPS One starts at $1299.

    Oh and why didn’t he publish laptop specs? Anyone? Anyone at all?

  7. Saying that the average PC costs X and the average mac costs 2X is like saying the average Mercedes costs more than the average Chevy. Of course. Duh. Apple’s market space is different than PCs. Is the average performance of the two average points the same? No. You can’t compare them.

  8. Another ridiculous analysis.

    By his accounting, we would all drive a Kia and dine on bologna, since it just boils down to cost. I had the same silly discussion with a friend who works at Symantec and drives a Lexus but couldn’t understand why it makes sense to spend extra to buy a Mac.

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