Friday, March 12, 2010

Half of what you see...

A day or two ago I encountered this image via Twitter.  Take a moment to go over it, there will be a test afterward.

Looks like your standard "Macs are SOOO expensive compared to PCs are you getting what you're paying for?" ad, right?  A few things struck me when I saw this, but first let me lay down a ground rule:

I am NOT going to try to disprove that Macs cost more!

Sure, I can probably shop around to find a PC manufacturer that costs the same as or more than Mac hardware, but if I shop wisely then chances are I can walk out the door with a PC and more money in my pocket than if I get a Mac with the same specs. One can argue cost over time and yadda yadda yadda, but that is not the purpose of this post.

Now I know Macs don't come that cheap, particularly the towers (which tend to be more high end than the iMacs), but that number still seemed high to me so I thought I'd take a visit to and see if I could recreate that total.

  • I avoided the Education store.  As a teacher I can get some nifty discounts, but for this test I felt that would be cheating.

  • Apple does not offer a 1.5 TB drive.  I went with a 2 TB drive instead.

Here's the parts I don't quite agree with.  To get the total they list...

  • I had to use the Apple RAM, which no Apple user in their right mind would do.  You can get the exact same RAM from places like for much less.

  • Ditto for the monitors.  You can get the same quality and size for a lot less if you go elsewhere.  Just do a Google search for "24" flat panel monitor."  Anything less than $900 will save you money.

Is the Apple option more expensive anyway?  Yes.  But the creator of this image played their cards right to make the price be as high as possible to emphasize their point.  I'm not blaming them for this - advertisers do this all the time.  It's our job as consumers to notice this and take it into account.

There's one last thing I'd like to point out.  Let's focus on a single line:

Why look at that!  Everyone knows Macs aren't upgradable!  This makes total and complete sense!

... or not.

If they had made this comparison with the iMac or any of the laptops, they would have had half a leg to stand on.  (You can upgrade the RAM and hard drives, but admittedly to conserve space the rest of the components are soldered together like they are in PC laptops.)

But they went high end, trying to show as powerful a pair of computers as they could.  Mac towers are just as modular as PC towers.   With the possible exception of the motherboard (I haven't messed with those for a few years) I can swap out the components in a Mac tower as much as I want.  There are plenty of bays for other drives, and I can even turn it into a RAID if I want.

Half of what you see ...

Is there some truth in the image?  Yes.  I did not display it to say it was 100% false.  But it is not 100% accurate.  It assumes those purchasing the Mac will make several bad decisions that I would not expect someone with the need for that much hardware to make.

It has enough truth in it to make people relax and accept the rest of it as fact as well.

Most advertisers do this.

Many people spreading hoaxes (see my last post about phishing) do this.

And it is our job, as consumers of information, to realize this before we react to what is handed to us.

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