?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Those Intel Macs? They need to be cheap...

Yesterday we went out and bought a new PC.

Nothing fancy, but something to eventually replace my current desktop, which is slowly failing after a PSU went "phut", let out the magic smoke, and took out a chunk of the motherboard. It still works, but there's going to be a day soon when it finally kicks the bit bucket.

We wandered down to PC World, where we picked up a small Athlon 64 machine. The specifications weren't too bad: 2GHz 64 bit processor, on-board ATI Radeon graphics card, and 512 MB of RAM, a dual layer DVD burner, 160GB of 7200RPM SATA hard disc, built-in gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 ports, firewire, and a whole pile of media readers. It's quiet and small, and in a reasonably attractive mirrored black case. The days of the beige box are long gone.

Not bad pricing, either. Including VAT it cost us around £360. We didn't need a monitor (they'd have sold us a 17" LCD for another £100).

That's over £130 cheaper than a Mac Mini, for a machine that's significantly more powerful - and with enough expansion capability to turn it into a nice little media box, too. (I have made one change, dropping in an extra half gig of RAM, but I'm currently using it to run a beta version of Windows Vista, with lots of debug code still in place, and it's performing comparably to a hyperthreaded Pentium 4 machine.)

With Apple rumoured to be announcing its Intel Mac Mini in a week or so, it's going to need to seriously consider its pricing structures. People are going to walk into PC World, look at the specifications of a hypothetical Intel Mini, and compare it with a generic Intel or AMD PC. It's going to be (as they say) Apples to apples - not G5 to P4. In which case, prices are going to need to come down some. Sure, Apple will be able to initially have some uplift thanks to the brand name, but the days of high margins on branded hardware will be behind them, and the market will force them to parity with the HPs and Dells of the world.

Interesting times.

Comments

( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
thunderbox
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
"Apple will be able to initially have some uplift thanks to the brand name, but the days of high margins on branded hardware will be behind them, and the market will force them to parity with the HPs and Dells of the world."

That statement values the OS at zero. It values "No viruses, spyware or other security nasties" and the rest of SWP's list at http://www.livejournal.com/users/stevewpalmer/84849.html at zero.

It also values the class-leading apps that run on OSX - like Logic (both versions) and Final Cut (both versions) - at zero.

In other words it's the sort of analysis a recovering EE would make. :-)
sbisson
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
I'm not valuing the OS at zero - I'm just comparing out of the box costs, which is what most consumer purchasers will use. Consumers don't see OSes as a cost, they see them as an integral piece of the hardware.

(Most Windows users will get XP SP2 now, which is a much more secure beast than the earlier versions, and Vista adds plenty of new security tools above and beyond OS X.)

I'm looking at low end systems here, not the big dual core G5s that serious digital media creators use. Users after those type of system won't be wandering into PC World carrying a pull out of offers from the Sun. Apple needs to see that the Mini is a tool for that level of customer, who may not be as aspiratonal as most Mac users.

And apps are a whole different kettle of fish - most of the high end Apple tools are priced appropriately for their value to the end user. I don't suggest for a minute that Logic or Final Cut are suitable for the PC World or Dixons customer. iLife is more their sort of thing.

Until Apple changes the way it sells its hardware it won't get much beyond its current 5% market share. Which is a pity.
(no subject) - thunderbox - Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbisson - Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stillcarl - Jan. 3rd, 2006 07:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - daveon - Jan. 3rd, 2006 01:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marypcb - Jan. 5th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marypcb - Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thunderbox - Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marypcb - Jan. 2nd, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
spride
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:31 pm (UTC)
Missed point error. The cost of a PC isn't the ticket price, it's the TCO, and that includes heartache and confusion for the end user. That's almost wholly absent if you buy a Mac.
sbisson
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:41 pm (UTC)
TCO isn't what the man-on-the-street looks for.

Apple is going to need to educate them - and I don't think it knows how to do so.

(And I personally find that my Mac is as reliable as my PCs. My only PC problems in the last couple of years have been hardware ones - usually hard drive failures)
(no subject) - spride - Jan. 2nd, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbisson - Jan. 2nd, 2006 03:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
megadog
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
It'll be interesting to see what happens when the Intel-Macs hit the street. I can see an initial burst of enthusiasm and significant sales, followed by a retrenchment as some degree of market-saturation sets in and people realisen they've bought overpriced hype.

Then will come the interesting bit. With Microsoft's stated abandonment of IE-for-OSX, there will probably be quite a few dissatisfied new Intel-Mac-owners out there when they find that they can't do their online shopping/gambling/gaming/banking because of a lack of some essential bit of ActiveX or .NET; while some new-Mac-owners will persist with trying to run the Windows-apps they know/love and the Windows software they've bought over the last ten years in virtual-PC-style emulation environments this won't satisfy all but the simplest/humblest users and applications.

Microsoft could then pull an ace out of its sleeve: a slim, tight version of "Vista Home" customized specially to replace OSX on the Intel-Macs - something which should actually be quite quick & easy to achieve [since the hardware-and-driver-diversity issues of the generic PC world are much less in the Mac-world; it's not as if MS would need to support legacy hardware in such a case now is it...] - and sold at a bargain price to tempt people back.
sbisson
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC)
Good news - you don't need to type Intel anymore! They're chaning their logo and dropping the dropped "e"...
sbisson
Jan. 2nd, 2006 01:42 pm (UTC)
I'm using Vista 5270 at the moment. It's interesting how many iLife-style apps are starting to appear in there.
(no subject) - megadog - Jan. 2nd, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - codepope - Jan. 2nd, 2006 02:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - megadog - Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - codepope - Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - daveon - Jan. 3rd, 2006 01:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - codepope - Jan. 2nd, 2006 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbisson - Jan. 2nd, 2006 02:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - codepope - Jan. 2nd, 2006 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
ice_hesitant
Jan. 2nd, 2006 06:42 pm (UTC)
Mac IE doesn't do ActiveX.
codepope
Jan. 2nd, 2006 02:52 pm (UTC)
Isn't the first day of the january sales somewhat of "choosing your data point carefully to allow it to back up your theory"?

And out of the box, you seem to be missing not just the OS, but the iLife apps for example....

And the final thing is, how *loud* is that machine. Could you put it in a normal living room under the TV? Or are you still not comparing apples and oranges by painting the apples orange?

sbisson
Jan. 2nd, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC)
It's pretty quiet - not much louder than our Sky+ box! But yes, the Mini has the edge on the decibels.

I hadn't really considered the January sales effect. In fact I suspect I could find similar (and probably cheaper) hardware on line. I just didn't want to wait 5 days to get something similar from Scan or RL...
(no subject) - codepope - Jan. 2nd, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
daveon
Jan. 3rd, 2006 01:18 pm (UTC)
The noise issue is being dealt with by many of the case makers now, but it's still a little way off being standard. The Shuttle cases and some of the Asus media systems are stunning in both looks and noise potential.
(no subject) - codepope - Jan. 3rd, 2006 01:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - daveon - Jan. 4th, 2006 09:00 am (UTC) - Expand
fba
Jan. 2nd, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC)
Just out of interest which manufacturer was this from?

Apple will be looking to compete with Dell, HP and Sony - not Acer, Advent and Packard Bell....
marypcb
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC)
If Apple wants to compete with premium brands it will never be a significant % of sales then. A lot of people wanting a new box will look round PC Whirl and think, as we did, that Packard Bell looks like the best price...
(no subject) - fba - Jan. 2nd, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ice_hesitant - Jan. 2nd, 2006 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - marypcb - Jan. 2nd, 2006 07:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
sbisson
Jan. 2nd, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
Re: So nothing will change?
I think they do have to change. They're moving from one niche market place to a larger, more competitive one. The old "we're different" marketing campaigns won't work, and Apple will be forced to compete on its merits.

They're also in a position where their premium applications are starting to see significant cross-platform competition from more experienced software companies.

I suspect that the key will be the iPod halo, and a more consistent media PC experience from the Mac. Selling on security would be a good move, too (until the black hats took it as a challenge).

(and selfishly I just want a cheap replacement for my PowerBook!)
(Deleted comment)
Re: So nothing will change? - megadog - Jan. 2nd, 2006 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: So nothing will change? - megadog - Jan. 2nd, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )