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April 9, 2009

Avoid the Apple Tax – Cash in on the value of Windows

With the ailing global economy, I am looking at ways I get better value for my money. One way I can do this if I need to replace a computer is by avoiding the “Apple Tax.”

Microsoft sponsored a new whitepaper (PDF) from Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates which takes a look at the tax from a tech analyst’s viewpoint. His paper shows the “Apple Tax” is the combination of what people pay up front when purchasing a Mac and what people pay over the life of their computer – the hidden tax.

Roger looked into both aspects in his whitepaper, and has discovered some interesting findings around the “hidden tax” of owning a Mac – using the scenario of a hypothetical family of 4 and their costs over a five year period. Knowing that Tax Day is just around the corner here in the US (April 15), I decided to have a little fun with his findings by building a mock up tax form using Roger’s numbers that show the whopping difference this family would get purchasing Windows PCs over Macs: $3,367.


I know taxes are calculated annually but I thought it would be more interesting to look in terms of total savings Roger outlined in choosing 2 Windows PCs over 2 Macs in that 5 year period.

So what could you do with that $3,367 savings by avoiding the Apple Tax?

If you want to get some exercise you could get bikes for the whole family, and still have money left over (All via Performance Bicycles)!

  • Schwinn Sid Coasting Bike ($499.99)
  • Schwinn Nancy Ladies Coasting Bike ($499.99)
  • Performance Girls 24” Kids Mountain Bike ($299.99)
  • 2008 Mongoose Amasa Comp Mountain Bike ($679.99)
  • 4 helmets: 2 Bell Ukon Sport Helmets @ $34.99, 1 Giro Women’s Kaya Helmet @ $39.99, and 1 Ascent Cruise Youth Helmet @ $29.99)

Take the family out for a night at the movies – 117 times (4 tickets @ $7.18 = $28.72)!

Make your home green, and save even more money!

It is human nature to focus on the up-front price. The coverage around our Laptop Hunters ads jumps right to that (“PCs are cheaper”). The harder thing to capture is the overall cost and the VALUE. Roger’s paper does a great job illustrating this. Cost is getting something cheaper. Value is a function of getting more of what you want, regardless of what you spend. And you’re a lot more likely to find that with a Windows PC.

Shoppers rarely do a lifetime cost of ownership calculation for a new computer (even though that’s the real cost and makes the PC advantage even greater) but they intrinsically calculate the value for a new computer. That’s what we see in the market every day and what we see in the choices made by Lauren and Giampaolo as they each selected a PC that met their own unique criteria (features and budget). They wanted the right value for them. And that’s the beauty of Windows PCs – the diversity of choice and options that exist so that people can find what’s right for their own needs, not someone else’s. You’re never forced to buy more than you need or give up features you want like Blu-ray, Mobile Broadband, Firewire, and more. And, Windows PCs offer this across a broadest range of price points and performance from low-end netbook PCs to high-end gaming rigs.

But let’s limit ourselves to the narrow scenario where Apple does have offerings. We get questions about this all the time so we asked Roger to take a look at the comparison chart that we’ve used before to outline features, specs and price points across Macs and PCs. Part of his conclusion is, “Holding the price constant and examining specifications only serves to exaggerate the better deals on the Windows side.”


Note: The chart splits the Mac and PC laptops in to 3 categories: Value for basic models, Mainstream for average models, and Performance for high end models to illustrate options where Apple has machines. Of course the full spectrum of PC laptops is much broader.

What do you think about the concept of value? And what would you do with a $3,367 “Apple Tax Return”? Sound off in comments. In a few weeks I’ll showcase what people say they would do with their “Apple Tax Return” in a follow-up blog post.


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