ars technica has an interesting take on the pros and cons of Apple lowering their prices. I think they do a fair job. Essentially it boils down the fact that once Apple lowers their price they won’t easily raise it back up. One interesting point was that Apple has weathered the downturn in the economy quite well turning record profits, no doubt a huge portion of that is due to high profit margins. I see the point of the ars article, but I am not sure I totally agree.
There are two things speaking as a consumer. First I haven’t ever purchased a Mac. I am writing this on a Mac, but never purchased one on my own. They are expensive and I am just not sure I am willing to pay the increased price when I can get something quite similar at a cheaper rate (I think a lot of business fall into this same problem). I like the OS and they do build beautiful well engineered machines, but for that price? I also like choice, but that is quite a different topic. Now all that said applied to me before the downturn in the economy. Now with the boom of netbooks and general lower prices on computer hardware it is almost impossible to justify a $2000+ 15″ laptop (and I know it isn’t fair to compare a netbook to the MBP, but even a comparable 15″ laptop from most other PC makers is well under 2K). It gets worse if you compare the desktops (with a possible exception with the starting iMac). Of course lowering the prices now on Macs may be bad timing (if things are truly as rosey as Bernanke tried to indicate yesterday).
I don’t know that Mac really needs to lower prices per se, I mean people are still buying their current lineup. The reality is that they should have more choices and with that lower prices. Most people don’t need the processing power of an MBP, but when it is either that or a 13″ screen many opt for the higher price just for screen space. Same is true of Mac Pros. I can think of very few people in the consumer world that need that much computing power, but if you want an expandable desktop there is your option. The point is that they should offer laptops of varying price points with varying sizes. Maybe offer something other than a Mac Mini sub-1000. And lets be truthful is the Mac Mini really that good of a deal? It starts at $600 with no monitor, keyboard, or mouse. By the time you add everything else up, oh and don’t forget the upgrade because the base system is crap, and you have a $1000 machine. Dell could get you into a desktop, not quite as small or sexy mind you, with monitor (flat screen), keyboard, mouse, and printer for less than the $600 price tag of the Mini unit.
My point is that lowering prices might help, but I know Apple, their lowering of prices will be marginal and almost meaningless. Oh people will praise them for it, but it won’t change my mind about purchasing one. I would rather get choice and variety. I think if Apple builds it they will come. The ars article suggests that when people buy the cheaper machines (given that they will be made cheaply) that will cause problems for Apple. I suppose they are right that some will complain, but I think most will realize that you get what you pay for. If you don’t like the quality of the $1000 15″ upgrade to our $2000 MBP. I think that is how most companies work. And for the few that will complain you will reap a whole heap of new customers and wider market share (and probably profit too).