posted by Thom Holwerda on Tue 13th Sep 2005 14:16 UTC
IconSome people say Macs are too expensive. Some say they aren't. I say they've got it all wrong. Read on to understand how I came to this conclusion.

It is a touchy subject. If you want to stirr things up, write an article titled "Macs are (not) too expensive" and you're sure to get a lot of comments, a lot of hits. Basically, there are three camps in this discussion. The first camp says that Macs are too expensive, the second one says they aren't, and the third group consists of people that just don't care. Leaving the last one out of this story, I'll focus on the first two camps.

Expensiveness is a very complicated term. Somehow, the people in the first two camps think that expensiveness (or it's counterpart, cheapness) is a universally applicable term, equal among all humans, a fact that one can set in stone. Like, ice is slippery. Fire is hot. Fish can swim. You know.

This is of course complete nonsense. Whether something is expensive or not is a completely subjective matter, influenced by many, many variables. In this story, I will concentrate on two of those variables. These two, perceived value of goods and income, are (arguably, however) the two most important factors that control whether an item is perceived as 'expensive' or 'cheap'.

Perceived value of goods

People buy things, because they perceive those things as 'valuable'. The more valuable something is to people, the more money they will be willing to spend on it. As you can clearly understand, an item's value is completely subjective. To me, an Aston Martin DB9 is well worth its whopping 202 000 Euros. I appreciate its timeless design, powerful engine, the craftsmanship (Aston Martins are built by hand), the brand's heritage, the whole nine yards. To someone else however, all that means jack. That someone just sees a car, nothing more, nothing less, and they will call me crazy for being willing to spend all that money on it. This is applicable to almost everything. I don't see the use in spending money on musical instruments; as I can't play them, they are valueless to me. To a musician however, they are invaluable, and he'll be willing to spend a lot of money on it.

The same applies to the Macintosh. I bought my Macs because I appreciate the design, the architecture, and above all, the operating system. I am willing to spend more on a Mac than on an x86 computer. So to me, a Mac is not expensive. Any added costs there might be in a Mac over a standard x86 are completely justified by my personal opinion about the superiority of the machine over the x86. Just like the musician and his instruments.

However, this of course does not go for everyone. Not everyone sees any value in the Mac platform that justifies spending any (if any) extra costs. Good case design is not patented by Apple. Most people don't care whether or not the PPC architecture is better (leaving the upcoming switch out of the story). Same goes for the operating system. I may find Mac OS easier to use than it's competitors, but that's just an opinion. It means nothing, at least not to anyone else but me. So, if we have someone who finds looks unimportant, does not care about architectures, and is happy with using either Windows or Linux-- than that person has no personal justification of spending the extra cash for a Mac.

Hence, for this person, a Mac is expensive.

Table of contents
  1. "Expensive or Cheap, page 1/2"
  2. "Expensive or Cheap, page 2/2"
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