Strong opinions, weakly held

Apple’s astounding numbers

John Gruber flags a report that Apple sells two thirds of the computers sold at retail stores for over $1,000. I didn’t realize that Apple was doing that well or that the bottom had fallen so far out of the PC market. Are people who are buying high end PCs buying them online? What does this mean for the game industry, where the latest games need more powerful PCs to run?


  1. Frankly, after the AMD/Intel price wars and the oversupply of RAM, the price of commodity computer parts is extremely low. >$1000 can buy a ton of powerful PC hardware, and the heavy competition has kept prices pretty close to the price of hardware. Apple can charge more for their products because of their industrial design and for the privilege of using OSX. PC manufacturers fail to provide the former, and cannot offer the latter.

    In terms of the hardcore gaming market, the value has long been in build-your-own PCs built from parts purchased from online stores like Newegg.com. A machine with 90% of the performance of the highest-end parts available can easily cost less than $700-800. Above that price, the marginal cost of increased performance becomes very, very steep. A machine purchased for double that price is only incrementally faster.

    The two things PC manufacturers can bring to the table are design and convenience. Unfortunately, very few manufacturers design computers that are more aesthetically pleasing or have better features than a midrange build-your-own case. As to convenience, a manufactured computer tends to suffer from the same number of driver/software/faulty hardware issues as a self-built computer. So, for those who can build their own computer, there is no compelling reason to buy a high-end PC from a retailer.

  2. You can build a pretty nice PC for less than $1,000 but every time I try to price out PCs comparable with Macs, I find the cost going up to around what I would wind up paying for the Mac. I find that to be true particularly when it comes to laptops.

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