The New Macs Suck (For My Wallet)

This is yet another reason why Apple is on top (right now).

If you go to the Apple store and try to 'build' a new Mac, you REALLY have to consider that you will have zero possibility for doing 'DIY' upgrades later. Therefore, you are stuck with maxing your system out from the build, where Apple is infamous on making money on some of their mark-ups. This is a large profit margin... straight money.

apple macbook airThrough the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and now iPad, they've convinced the consumer that 'looks' are as important as performance. They've convinced the consumer, now pretty much all of them (geeks included), that you don't need to tinker with your machine afterwards… "it just works" - so we're going to build everything on the board directly. With these concepts combined together, you get this year's Mac products. ALL but two Mac models are not upgradable afterwards (all but one below as you'll see, and I didn't add the MBP). So you MUST upgrade at the time of purchase, or you WILL be screwed just two years later.


I 'built' what I would buy as a sustainable 4-5 yr. PC:
- 13" MacBook Air: $2,526.00 - (stock: $1,499.00, with TB LED Display: $3,526.00)
- (would order 999.99 Apple Thunderbolt Display as this would be a 'desktop' replacement with a much needed additional Thunderbolt port).
- (would order "Mac Care", as this is an unserviceable mobile laptop).

- 15" MacBook Pro Retina: $4,176.00 - (stock: $2,799.00, with TB LED Display: $5,176.00)
- (would order 999.99 Apple Thunderbolt Display as this would be a 'desktop' replacement with a much needed additional Thunderbolt port).
- (would order "Mac Care", as this is an unserviceable mobile laptop).

- 2012 Mac Mini: $1,527.00 - (stock $799.00, with TB LED Display: $2,527.00)
- (would order 999.99 Apple Thunderbolt Display as this would be a 'desktop' replacement with a much needed additional Thunderbolt port).

- 2012 27" iMac: $3,597.00 - (stock $1,999.00)
- (would order "Mac Care", as this is an unserviceable desktop).

As I said before, this is what 'I' would buy, as something that would sustain me for the next four to five years. The problem is, 'I' paid $2,100 (after taxes and shipping) for my iMac four years ago, and I am able to service it if I need to (RAM, hard drive, no "Mac Care", etc.). AND I got a great display with it (again, 2,100 bucks four years ago). To repeat that now, I would have to spend $3,500! I just don't see that happening for me anytime soon. I'm kinda screwed.

More Thoughts & Ramblings

All of the above are the future for both Apple and other manufacturers (as they are trying desperately to catch up). Other manufacturers have a horrible OS in stock now with Windows 8 (this is a huge win for Apple, as I'm learning how Win8 is just so damn bad as time goes on).

Apple has the lockdown on supply chain and patents. If you look at the 'blue' stock prices, and then what the maximum price would be with 'their' upgrades, you're easily looking at a 85% - 200% markup (300% with a Thunderbolt display). THAT is money. You could shave a grand off without the LED Thunderbolt [TB] display, but Thunderbolt is a huge technology, and the more the better. I guess at 'purchase' you could remove the display and get it at a later time. But still, this is their model.

macbook proAlthough you're buying absolutely awesome products that should last you four to five plus years, as consumers it sucks to be 'us'. The MacPro was the last real serviceable product they made, and they haven't upgraded the MacPro but once over the past few years (and that was a very modest upgrade to the CPU speed). What does that tell you about where they're making their money, where they want to be, and what the consumer is buying?

All of that said, I wonder how long Apple as a company can sustain this growth? I wonder how their lockdown of the products and supply chain will continue. I wonder how long it's going to take for the consumer to revolt against such a model. From the start, this has been their model, and I don't ever seeing that changing. The MacMini was supposed to be their 'consumer level intro' computer, but with all the necessary upgrades at $1,500, you might as well shop elsewhere.

I just don't see this lasting with the consumer past five more years at the rate they're growing. Maybe Tim Cook will change this once they start to lose share, but I doubt it. What I sincerely hope happens is Microsoft starts building their own hardware, as it is rumored to be happening. I would love to see Microsoft inch towards this model as it will put pressure on Apple to reduce their price. Macs are what they are because the software maker and the hardware maker are the same, as this allows for a near perfect computer. If Microsoft should do this (again as it's rumored), not only will that provide a better PC, but it'll be direct competition to Apple's methodology.

All of that said… I would seriously buy that 15" MacBook Pro Retina. A co-worker of mine ordered the model I specced out at $4,000. It's amazing. Light, portable, fast, beautiful design, the screen is…. beautiful. But to replace 'my' iMac I'd need a screen, and the only screen I'd want is that TB LED, and that's another grand on top of four. That's pretty rich. Also, with the flipping back and forth between a retina screen and the TB LED - I don't know if that would hurt my eyes. Once you go retina, it's hard to go back, heh. The next comparable screen like the TB LED is probably around $2,000 - $4,000 by itself.

My runner-up would be the MacBook Air. After using an Air for a week now, it's a great little laptop (seriously great, almost an iPad replacement). The model I have is stock, and is slower than 'I' would like, but it's a great portable laptop with a GREAT battery. In fact, I'd say it's the best battery I've ever seen/used in a laptop ever. As I write, I'm on my second day with no charge!

To bring this extended piece to a close, I'll say that the most economical bang for your buck is a regular MacBook Pro with a TB LED Apple display (eventually). Still crazy expensive, but at least you only have to upgrade your CPU and maybe the hard drive at build. Everything else is serviceable.

Have any thoughts or questions? Please leave them in the comments... thanks!

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