So Much For The Apple Tax! Laptop Makers Can’t Compete With The MacBook Air For The Price

So Much For The Apple Tax! Laptop Makers Can’t Compete With The MacBook Air For The Price

Remember a time when people still talked about an Apple tax with a straight face? It’s been laughable for years, but with the debut of the iPad, became a self-evident joke: if Apple overprices their hardware, why the heck can’t the competition make an equally specced, sub-$500 tablet?

The disparity between what Apple can make and sell a product for and what the competition can has only grown more pronounced since the debut of the $999 MacBook Air.

It’s such a big disparity that Intel has launched what it calls the UltraBook initiative to help laptop makers release capable MacBook Air competitors… but even with Intel’s help, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that any first-gen UltraBooks will be able to beat the MacBook Air in price.

According to Digitimes:

The sources pointed out that Intel’s ultrabook concept is not a brand new innovation, but a design to allow first-tier notebook players to quickly catch up with Apple’s advances in the ultra-thin segment and help the notebook industry recover from the impact of tablet PCs. The sources pointed out that the new MacBook Airs are priced at about US$999-1,599 with rather strong demand in the US; however, designing an ultrabook based on Intel’s technical suggestions will still be unable to reduce the machine’s price level to lower than the MacBook Air’s unless Intel is willing to reduce its prices, which already account for one-third of the total cost. If Intel does reduce its prices there is a chance for vendors to provide pricing below US$1,000.

So the so-called Apple Tax, in the case of the MacBook Air, is actually an Apple Discount: they’ll sell you a $1299 top-of-the-line ultraportable with unparalleled build construction for $300 cheaper.

Expect this disparity to only get worse as time goes on: Apple’s using its cash hoard to build up a portfolio of future products that the reactionary competition can’t even hope to touch.

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  • Noah

    This whole website is laughable full of bullshite, totally disregarding facts. Well, you gotta justify your expensive purchases somehow. Come at me bros.

  • techgeek01

    according to sources, an unnamed elf living under my bed has heard from a flying pink unicorn who is working for Intel that Apple has been paying Intel billions of dollars to jack the price of ultrabooks so that ultrabooks manufactures cannot compete against Apple.

    Thats being said, take this with a grain of salt,  far too many articles this website picks up on have been proven bogus are were hoax.  Browser IQ that said IE are dummer than safari? that was proven to be a hoax. Samsung stopped selling Galaxy Tab in Australia because the bowed down to Apple?  Not the case.So before we jump to conclusions, make sure the articles are authentic and not some fake/bogus article.  And PLEASE just use articles that actually have stuff backing up and some analyst/blog author/news writer claiming that he heard from a pink flying unicorn that this huge thing is happening. 

  • MacGoo

    Examples? Right now you just look like a hater who came here to troll.

  • Spencer Ponce

    Soooo…. If I’m hearing you right the author is full of bullshit because he’s totally disregarding facts, and yet he does cite facts and external links, and you don’t seem to have done either. So, tell me, what exactly is there to come at?

    Oh wait, I guess you have to justify your inferior quality electronics somehow. How’s that plastic feel?

  • djrobsd

    Has anyone checked into the ownership of this site?  Are you sure it’s not registered to some shell company owned by Apple itself?

  • Apple_Fanboy_News

    Check out this great apple bog for all the up to date news on everything apple!

    Even news on the iPhone 5

     http://applefanboynews.com/

  • Mssangol

    The site is called “Cult of Mac”, – in other words pro-Apple. Even though the articles maybe be a bit biased, they have their good points. Apple iPad and Macbook Air isn’t high cost when compared to the market. 

  • wayzom

    On the Samsung Australia item, you should look again. They are once again not going to be sold. You can hardly blame t his site for Samsung releasing three contradictory statements in three days.

  • jamesbarsby

    Some Apple products are good value and some aren’t.

    Speck up a Mac Mini to the level of a 27inch iMac, to see how much better value the iMac is, with near identical components.

    There is also terrible Apple tax, when you compare US to UK prices… Even taking things like VAT into account.

    That said, the New Air is one of Apple’s best products, but unless they release a 15 inch model with dedicated graphics, for not much more… I just can’t justify spending that much money. I know I could get a MacBookPro but that would require me to remorgage my house.

    No Apple tax my ass, MacBooks are double the price of similar specked PC’s …aluminium isn’t that expensive ;-)

    Don’t get me wrong I love Apple products, but I just wish they would realise that if they lowered the price, they would sell a lot more… and make more money. I mean just look at the iPad, why can’t they do that with their macs?

  • lsl833
  • lsl833
  • lsl833
  • azurehi

    Why anyone would buy a laptop without an optical drive is beyond my understanding.   But, of course, Steve Jobs wants you to obtain everything in the way of media from the iCloud.  This is fine if your broadband provides high download speeds and is Not capped.  What happens when all providers Do cap?  (and they will)

  • Robert Norris Hills

    Lets totally skip over the fact  that there’s several equally speced android devices that sell for less/the same as ipads shall we. 

    The Samsung Galaxy S 10.1 isn’t only better speced with better form factor but its equally priced. 

    So go suck it. Sick of seeing people link to articles here that are not only wrong but arrogantly so. 

  • Robert Norris Hills

    Yes you are correct. Its called cult of mac. Not cult of lets say whateverthefuckkwewant and expect everyone to believe it DOTCOM. 
    Pull the iPole out of your iAnus’s and post sh1t that’s actually if not true at least objective. Not even the android fansites post as much bullshit as this site does. 

  • Van Saharya

    Lets totally skip over the fact that the Android OS is a piece of crap, and is unable to utilize the hardware its been given to be placed on. Can it match the battery life? No, can their tablets match the multi touch capabilities of iOS and that of the iPad? No. Can the Android OS get thousands of manufacturers to build millions of shitty products? Yes. 

    And lets totally skip over the fact that the Apple dominates the market due to the price/intuitiveness of it’s products aka iPad. Hate to break it to you, but the 9.53 million + iPad owners aren’t all just “fan boys,” people actually care about the quality of products they are getting.

  • Hertnar

    I don’t think the MacBook Air is uncompetitive, you’re getting a fair bit for the money… and even here in the UK you can pick up the basic model for £849.

    Just been reading up about some alternatives and they can get pretty expensive, been reading a review of the admittedly very slick looking Samsung 900X3A (reviewed here: http://www.itreviews.co.uk/har… ) but the price tag on that according to the review is £1,200 in the UK… granted it’s very well specced, but the display apparently isn’t so great. Which might needle at that price.

    Exactly how competitive the Ultrabooks are though, we shall have to see, but I don’t see the Air as bad value…

  • Greg Scraper

    Some comparative specs -

    Toshiba Satellite – $975, 2.0 GHz Intel quad-core i7, 750 GB Hard drive, 17 inch screen, CD/DVD RW, Blu-ray R
    Macbook Air (the best one) – $1599, 1.7 GHz Intel dual core i5, 256 GB Flash Drive, 12.8 inch screen, no CD drive

  • stefn

    The writer is comparing similar spec machines, including weight, battery life, form factor. You don’t. Maybe these features mean nothing to you. But that’s beside the point. They are value points for many people. These new computers are consumer computers, where some of your specs mean nothing. It’s an decades old game to compare Apple’s products unfairly to a Wintel device.

  • djkdawg

    apple is simple, and simple sales, because 90% of the world is too dumb to troubleshoot problems, android is for advanced users that prefer to have an open device that they can do what ever they want and not be told no. 

  • djkdawg

    i agree!!! 

  • kennymatic

    Why anyone would buy a laptop WITH an optical drive is beyond my understanding. The only time I ever use my optical drive these days is to rip my old CDs so I can finally be rid of them. 

  • IamJAd

    I just got a MacBook Air after being solely a Windows guy.  Not only were the specs and price better than the current competition (looking at Samsung Series 9), but I get the best of both worlds– OS X, and Windows in Parallels (which works fantastically, by the way).

    By the way, out of the box, my Mac syncs my gMail calendar and contacts perfectly in a standalone mail app.  Windows 7 Ultimate AND Outlook 2010 cannot.  That’s just not right.

    …and yes, I’m now considering losing my Windows desktop for an iMac.

  • Ryan Thompson

        I don’t see a tax, I see increased value.  Too many people seem to have no issues spending more for a well designed couch as opposed to the Ikea special, or a well designed web site as opposed to an out of the box template.  I’ve never heard anyone say to me “I can’t believe you bought an actual leather couch, the fake leather looks fine.  And leather doesn’t cost that much”.  If someone were to say that to me, I would think they were fairly dumb.  So why is that argument even a little valid when computers are involved?

    I need:A: Run a POSIX compliant OSB: Make common tasks easy, and difficult tasks possibleI want:C: Look NiceD: Be made of something other than cheap gross plastic
    Anyone have an alternative to a Mac for this.  Linux allows A, but often really messes up on B.  Everything else is excluded because C or D with the exception of the occasional Sony product, and those often make me look like a miser for buying Apple.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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