You Still Need a Second Job
The press was buzzing last week with news that Apple would announce an $800 laptop. While this would mean a total yawner for HP or Dell, it's a major breakthrough for Apple, the Gucci of personal computing.
Unfortunately the lowest Apple went with its new line of lappers is to cut the price of its entry-level MacBook from $1,100 to a cool grand. Are you excited yet? Not me. I'd need a second job to buy one.
Apple did announce a bunch of new laptops that now sport some super-powerful NVIDIA graphics processors. But when it comes to basic PC economics, the Microsoft crowd still owns. And that's too bad.
Apple is a large enough supplier that it could match HP and Dell feature for feature and price for price -- especially since it owns the OS!
In this economy, I believe it is an outrage for Apple to charge such a premium. Lower and middle income families, not to mention the developing world, can't afford to join this exclusive club. Frankly, I don't think Apple cares one bit, nor does it care about greater penetration into the enterprise, which it could easily accomplish with affordable computers and actually talking about the enterprise!
I know a lot you will do the math and argue that the cost of a Mac is either competitive or cheaper than a PC when you factor in fewer software support issues and less need for anti-virus. That's like saying a Cadillac is cheaper than a Hyundai -- maybe ten years down the road it is, but you still have to pay a premium upfront.
Does Apple care about IT? What should Apple to makes its computers more attractive to ordinary consumers and enterprises? Advice for Mr. Jobs welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Apple Tax
In perhaps a pre-emptive strike against the Apple price cuts that never really happened, Microsoft spoke out against what it calls the "Apple Tax." Microsoft's argument is an odd one. Instead of attacking the base prices, which are higher because there is no competition, no OEMs and no non-Apple options, Microsoft talks mostly about how much extra money it takes to make a Mac run Windows. This is clearly an issue for those that want or need to run actual Windows.
In my experience, this issue is moot. When my sons David and Nick got their new MacBooks, they were excited about BootCamp. It wasn't as easy to set up as they thought, and after using what came with the Mac, they had no real interest in Windows.
Lauren, who's a sophomore in college, never even asked about BootCamp. All she needed was MacOffice and she was good to go. Still is.
So what is the real "Apple Tax?" It is the price itself!
Windows 7 is Windows 7
I've always felt Microsoft code names were much cooler than the actual product. Chicago is cooler than Windows 95, Wolfpack sounds better than Windows Cluster Server, and Longhorn is far catchier than Windows Server 2008.
Maybe Microsoft is starting to feel the same as it has decided the code name Windows 7 is good enough to keep. You have plenty of time to get used to the name -- Windows 7 probably won't be out until 2010 -- maybe by then the Dow will back to 10,000.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.