Ballmer is right: Mac users do pay dearly for Apple logo

Steve Ballmer is trash-talking Apple again. No surprise there.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Steve Ballmer is trash-talking Apple again. No surprise there, as Microsoft's famously loud-mouthed CEO has taken plenty of swings at Cupertino over the years, such as when he snickered at the iPhone back in 2007. Ballmer's most recent shot came Thursday at the McGraw-Hill Companies' Media Summit New York, where Ballmer was interviewed via webcast by BusinessWeek editor-in-chief Stephen Adler.

As reported by Todd Bishop of TechFlash, Ballmer offered his theory as to why Macintosh sales fell 16 percent in February, according to stats from market-researcher NPD Group:

"The economy is helpful. Paying an extra [US]$500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be."

The Mac vs. PC argument is an old one, certainly, and Ballmer's hardly an impartial observer in the debate. But does Steve have a point? Take the MacBook, for instance. The white 13-inch model with a 2.0 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 2GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive is still $999. Compared to similarly-equipped Windows notebooks, that's awfully pricey.

The Apple faithful will counter that the Mac offers much more for the money. But does it?

While it's difficult to draw an apples-to-apples (insert Apple-to-PC joke here) comparison, I decided to give it a shot by configuring a 13-inch notebook at the Dell site. For $640, I could buy an Inspiron laptop with a 13-inch glossy, widescreen display (the premium screen), a 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 3GB of memory, and a 250GB hard drive.

The Dell Insprion cost $359 less than the MacBook, but offered a lot more memory and storage. Ballmer's estimate of a $500 Mac premium may be a tad high, but it's in the ballpark. Let's say the Mac tax is more like $300 than $500.

Apple enthusiasts will counter that Mac users don't have to fuss with security worries, and that's true, at least for now. They'll point out that Macs don't come with the crapware that infests so many Windows PCs. And they'll make the valid observation that the MacBook's preinstalled software, including iLife, is superior to the so-so apps, including Microsoft Works, that ship with most consumer Windows PCs.

Fair enough. But are those advantages worth a $300-plus premium? In this economy, many consumers may think not.

Ballmer's logo-tax theory doesn't hold true for all Apple products, however. The $199 iPhone 3G doesn't cost more than competing smart phones, even when you add in the monthly AT&T service cost. And iPods come in a wide range of competitively-priced packages, from the $79 Shuffle to the feature-packed $229 iPod Touch.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftApplesteve ballmer

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeff Bertolucci

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?