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Apple Laptop Upgrades Costing 200% More Than Dells 935

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the pay-the-apple-tax dept.
An anonymous reader writes "C|net is highlighting the astonishing cost of Apple laptop hardware upgrades, compared to Dell — in some instances, Apple is charging 200% more for upgraded components, such as memory and hard disks. Either there's a serious difference in the quality of components being used, or Apple is quite literally ripping off those who aren't able to upgrade hardware themselves."
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Apple Laptop Upgrades Costing 200% More Than Dells

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  • Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by adpsimpson (956630) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:47AM (#23999497)

    Top end vendor charges more for service than mass-market vendor.

    Film at 11.

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hmryobemag}> on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:26AM (#24000135) Journal

      Fashionable vendor charges more for service than mass-market vendor.

      Film at 11.

      There fixed it for you :)

      Apple computers have their uses to professionals, but to the average Joe on the street it's just a more fashionable (and perhaps reliable) computer - and those are the people who are getting fleeced because they don't know how to swap out some computer parts.

  • by sleekware (1109351) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:48AM (#23999507)
    Just pay your neighborhood friendly computer geek to install the upgrade for you. You aren't forced to go through the Mac store.
  • 200% cooler (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:49AM (#23999521)

    They cost 200% more because owning an apple makes you 200% cooler.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's also a convenience charge, similar to how getting an umbrella at wal-mart is cheaper than getting the same umbrella at a golf course during a tournament once it starts raining.

    • by Simonetta (207550) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:40AM (#24001649)

      The comment gets to the core of the entire issue. Apple charges 200% more for the same components because their customers want to pay more. In an extremely wealthy society there is always a group of people who have much more money than the norm, and it is very important to these people that they are able to differentiate themselves from the rest of the population through a series of 'class markers'.

        These are items that only they buy because they are much more expensive than similar items available for the general population. Yes these items are better quality, but the degree of higher price for better quality is much greater than would be justified by the cost of the components. So the wealthy aren't selecting these brand items solely for better quality. They are doing it to identify themselves to the other members of their class.

          There are many companies that have always positioned themselves into this market niche. But Apple is one of the few companies that continues to insist that their excessively high prices are only a direct result of their 'commitment to high quality'. It is ironic that they have been successful at marketing their 'cool factor' by selling commodity components at such a large premium since the entire concept of 'coolness' in the USA is a set of behaviors and lifestyles designed to give dignity to people with little or no money.

          The entertainment industry has been most successful at marketing this contradiction. Apple is the first technology company to do so as well. Even to the point of having their business revolve around a prima-donna rock star personality.

          I've detected this about Apple ever since the introduction of the Macintosh, when this kind of mentality started at Apple. I recommend watching them for amusement, but don't buy their products even second-hand. Buy clones (for personal stereos) or functional equivalents (for personal computers).

          Despite all their grandiose advertisements, Apple has always existed for only one reason: to transfer wealth from the wealthy (who need to have a non-proletariat PC) to Steve Jobs' bank account.

  • Desktops too (Score:5, Informative)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:49AM (#23999531) Homepage Journal

    This is also true of Apple desktops.

    Simple check: Go to the Apple store, and price a Mac Pro 8-core with the basic amenities; 2 GB ram, the recommended HD. Then price it maxed out; one HD of the largest size (1/2 TB last I looked) and 32 GB of RAM. Finally, take the original price and add 32 GB of RAM in 4 GB sticks (the Mac Pro can take 8 sticks) from a reputable online store. The difference is astonishing.

    I have a recent Mac Pro, and I expanded it the sensible way; the amount of money I saved by doing that is staggering. I've had absolutely no problems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:49AM (#23999543)

    Doesn't matter if it's trendy clothing, a trendy car or anything else, it's going to be more expensive if it's the 'cool' thing to do.

  • by CambodiaSam (1153015) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:51AM (#23999579)
    I get my oil changed at the dealer for various reasons:
    1. I don't know how to change my own
    2. I prefer to use the dealer since they can do warranty replacement on the spot if something is broken

    Yes, I pay probably twice as much, and I like it. Kinda seems like the same situation here.
    • But.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Junta (36770) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:56AM (#23999683)

      The thing is not about the 'dealer' generically overcharging. It's about Apple overcharging more than other vendors overcharging. All of them charge more for options for the general philosophy you hold justifying it, but overcharging more than a comparable competitor....

      BTW, I did have the dealer change my oil during warranty because they sent me coupons for free oil changes for the duration of my warranty, but in the end, I find it hard to see how an oil change could break anything else, so I do it myself now that it is out of warranty.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      Well, you're obviously just a noob sucker who doesn't know a thing about his car. You should have your license revoked until you know how to rebuild an engine from scratch. : p
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wiggles (30088)

      Two thoughts on that.

      1. You should learn; it isn't that difficult. I was changing my mother's car's oil at 15. Just make sure you don't drop the drain plug in the pan :)
      2. In my state, any reputable mechanic can do warranty repairs. You should check with your local mechanic to see if you have similar laws on the books.

      As a rule, I never go to a dealer for anything except for warranty repairs, but those are extremely rare since I've only owned one car with an actual warranty (and it was a Honda). Deale

  • Duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:52AM (#23999581) Homepage

    I like Apple. I've got my MacBook Pro next to me. At home we have another MBP, a MacBook, and an iMac. In the past we've owned numerous other Macs (all the way back to an LC II).

    So let me say... duh. It is very well known that Apple does this. Read any thread on Macs here on /. Someone says Macs are great computers. Someone replies "but look what they charge for RAM!". The someone else says "well yeah, Apple is like that, buy the RAM separately."

    This OLD. This is STALE. This is well known by anyone who watches this stuff. It's stupid, but Apple is allowed to price gouge if they want. This is just some "journalist" writing about a "discovery" to get page-views.

    Just don't buy your upgrades from Apple.

    And don't give this guy the hits he doesn't deserve.

    • Re:Duh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:18AM (#24000051)

      Yep, but also watch out when Apple has specials. When I bought my MacBook, I was going to get the base model and upgrade the HD and RAM to get it to be nearly the same as the middle model.

      But they were running a special at the time (I think it was a Back-to-School special). For about $200 more, I could double my RAM, upgrade my HD and get a slightly faster processor. So I just paid the $200 upgrade as it would have cost me as much just to buy the parts.

    • Re:Duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BasharTeg (71923) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:46AM (#24000547) Homepage

      I would like to also declare along these lines that the following subjects are also OLD and STALE:

      Microsoft abused their monopoly power to destroy old competitors such as Netscape and others.

      Pointing out that IE6 and IE7 are horribly not web standard compliant.

      Pointing out that older versions of Microsoft products (XP SP1, IIS 5, IE6) had massive security problems.

      See, because it's Apple, Apple fanbois think that once their problems have been discussed (and minimized, rationalized, and written off as not problems at all) that even if these problems are never addressed they should never be discussed again. But we don't afford any other vendor that courtesy. We don't say "Oh, everyone knows Microsoft's browsers aren't very standards compliant, lets not discuss that again."

      It's comments like this, trying to knock people who are pointing out that this problem STILL exists, and the legion of fanbois posting on this story coming up with 20 different reasons why Apple has to charge this much and why it makes sense, or posts like yours saying this isn't news that's just how Apple is, stop talking about it, that make the best response in the whole set of threads: "Kool aid much?"

      Yes, Apple can price gouge if they want. Yes, we can and will talk about it.

      And yes, I own a Macintosh, an Apple TV, an iPod nano, and I have about $2,000 into iTunes store so far. --- (Apple fanboi street cred)

    • Oh Please (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kneo24 (688412)
      Just because it might have the "duh" factor around here, that doesn't mean that Cnet's target audience is nearly as tech savvy as the rest of us. Besides, it gives us a reason to bitch about something.
    • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:59AM (#24000807) Homepage Journal

      This OLD. This is STALE. This is well known by anyone who watches this stuff.

      The point of the article could be to get more people to watch this stuff.

  • Of course (Score:5, Funny)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:55AM (#23999667) Homepage Journal

    In other news: radio upgrades cost more on a BMW than on a Hyundai. With that or with RAM upgrades, you can either do it yourself (or hire someone), or you can let the dealer do it. Guess which is always more expensive?

    Apple is quite literally ripping off those who aren't able to upgrade hardware themselves.

    That would literally hurt.

  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:56AM (#23999671) Homepage Journal
    There's a lot more that determines pricing apart from "quality" (you mean cost) of components and greed. First and foremost, there is cost of labor (although I doubt that Apple employs expensive US/European people for assembling their stuff). Also don't underestimate the cost benefit of having efficient logistics / infrastructure for assembly.

    Also, compared to most smaller market players, both Apple and Dell are outrageously overpriced in this regard.

  • by mollymoo (202721) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:58AM (#23999703) Journal
    It's true that Apple gouge on upgrades, but it's hardly a new phenomenon. They were doing it 4 years ago when I bought my first Mac and were doing it well before then too. It's a form of price discrimination, similar in that way to rebates and coupons. Those willing to expend more effort (fit their own RAM, fill out a rebate) effectively pay a lower price which allows the store to sell to a broader range of customers while maximising profit.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:59AM (#23999729) Homepage

    Sometimes (the last two times) I change my own [automobiles'] oil. Sometimes I don't. The point is whether or not I feel capable or up to it and whether or not the money and time I spend is worth more or less than the money.

    Personally, I wouldn't dream of paying someone to work on my computers. But that's just me... and probably most everyone here has similar sentiments. HOWEVER, the masses think of computers as difficult, scary and complicated beasts and would rather pay. If they bought an Apple, they are no stranger to the belief that they pay more but are getting more. While the latter is debatable, that's not the point. The point is that they are more than likely very comfortable with paying whatever price they end up paying or else they would seek less expensive alternatives... and there *are* alternatives. This is a classic "what the market will bear" capitalism. Leave it alone.

  • Or a little of both (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phorm (591458) on Monday June 30, 2008 @09:59AM (#23999737) Journal
    In other news, people pay for service. Seriously, I don't know many places at all that charge less than $40-50 min for a lot of simple things like putting in a stick of RAM. I do charge less - which most private clients comment on - but I only do that when I have the time to bother.

    You are paying for the service. It's not a new thing. Have a look at internet hosting providers, where many will charge you an extra $60/month for an extra gig stick of RAM, or $600 outright to have it installed.

    As for the quality of components, it's well known that Dell - and many others - use shit components. The last few Dell's I serviced (and I avoid them if at all possible now) had cheap, no-name brand BS boards, bargain-basement RAM, and feather-light cruddy PSU's. On top of this, oft-times stock components (floppy drives, etc) would not work in them, due to special case-configurations (such as the drive-screws being on top instead of bottom) that worked only with Dell components. The dell components were still genero-brand crap, but higher priced and altered enough that they were the only ones that fit.

    So is it ripping off customers? Well, they're definitely paying more. But I'd consider a long-lasting, reliable PC at $1500+ a deal compared to a $500 unit that runs like crap and may decide to die (and take my data with it) anytime.

    I haven't disassembled any of the newer macs in awhile though, but why not buy the parts and - if you don't want to pay Apple to install them - get a local geek to do the job?
  • by greenskin (81846) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:03AM (#23999793)

    If Apple is literally ripping off consumers, I think you forgot your direct object. Maybe Apple is quite literally ripping the arms off those who aren't able to upgrade hardware themselves? Why isn't this bigger news?

  • Isn't that the idea? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Qwavel (733416) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:04AM (#23999813)


    Apple is a premium brand, so you pay more for everything.

    One of the ideas behind this strategy is that you are trying to attract primarily the most 'price-insensitive' customers. These are, after-all, the most desirable customers.

    One can see how it pays off with the recent AT&T deal. Apple got the best of the deal, but AT&T justified it to their shareholders by reminding them that these are the best customers you can get.

    Of course, getting these customers is not as easy at just raising your prices - being the #1 cool brand is the key and is very expensive in marketing etc. - but the upside is huge.

  • I've been an Apple user for quite some time, and quite frankly, this is not news. This has always been the case.

    Any time I configure a machine for myself, or help someone configure their machine, I always set any Apple accessories to the minimum, then budget in an order from Newegg, OWC, etc, for any RAM and HD expansion needed.

    On one hand, yeah it sucks, however many of the newer laptops, especially the Macbook (not pro) line have made it very easy to swap out RAM and HDs, so it really isn't that much of an issue. The one place that you really have no option is if you want to upgrade the CPU.

    Is it a money grab from Apple for those who don't know better/are timid of their own upgrades/don't care? Does it really matter? Quite frankly if you don't research before buying anything you are probably going to get taken. This also increases the market for 3rd party upgrade retailers from Mac users who are in the know.

    I know there is this stigma that Mac users only care about looking cool and being clueless, however many of the Mac/Apple users I know do not really fit into that niche at all. Many of us chose the machines we have because they fulfill the needs we have, can run the software we desire, and at a price point we are happy with. Most of us have machine that look a bit worse for the wear due to being used day in and day out both in offices and on-site. Just because Apple marketing likes to play the 'cool' person card whenever possible to grow brand recognition, does not mean that there are not serious professionals out there using the platform for serious work.

  • Steak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greyhueofdoubt (1159527) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:08AM (#23999875) Homepage Journal

    "Can you believe it? When I go to the local steakhouse, they charge me more than twice what the meat itself actually cost! I can grill porterhouses for the whole family for half of the cost of going to the restaurant, and then there's the cost of gas! WTF! Restaurants suck!"

    And yet you keep going to them.

    Geek squad, car mechanics, roomba accessories, batteries for power tools, printer ink cartridges, etc... the list is long of transactions that grossly favor the seller. This is business. Things are not priced according to their material cost, they are priced based on their market value. They cost what they are worth to the target market.

    You could sit all day making little beaded merkins with fur trim and I won't pay you a damned cent because I don't want your damned merkins. You get paid what you're worth. Apple gets paid what their products are worth on the market. They have done the math and figured that they make more money by charging X dollars and losing a few customers than charging X to more customers.

    I hate it too and when I do buy apple hardware I downgrade the memory as far as I can in order to save money by buying it elsewhere.

    Think of it this way: Buying RAM at newegg or wherever is cheaper than buying it from apple, but it's also cheaper than buying it from dell. So skipping the RAM from both companies saves you money. Right?

    Maybe you feel like people are getting ripped off, but that's just because you're sensitive to this area of the market. I think people are getting ripped off whenever they pay a premium for something made out of 'aircraft grade aluminum' or titanium or whatever. I work with those materials all the time and the phrase 'aircraft grade aluminum' is as useless as saying mil-spec or heavy duty. There are mil-specs for shitty things, too. 'Heavy duty' batteries are among the worst. And aircraft aluminum ranges in strength from steel down to something you can rip with your hands.

    So screw people who can't open the memory access panel on their computers. Apple has free and detailed instructions on how to do that for all of their hardware. If you're paying that much for RAM, then you're also probably the kind of person who pays $45 for someone to do their oil change or $6 for someone to make their coffee for them.

    Again: Market value.

    -b

  • by LM741N (258038) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:10AM (#23999913)

    that Apple still made computers. Thought they were in the online music business or something.

  • by noewun (591275) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:15AM (#23999985) Journal

    Three rules for owning Macs:

    1) Do not talk about Fight Club.

    2) Never buy the first generation of hardware.

    3) Never order RAM or drives from Apple.

    Seriously, this is old news. Buy the machine bare bones, order the stuff thuird party and install it yourself. As a bonus, it gives you an excuse to buy a set of Torx drivers!

  • by aapold (753705) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:36AM (#24000311) Homepage Journal
    Why? Because people are willing to pay it. If they weren't, then they would lower their prices until they were.

    It has nothing to do with the technology or anything else other than a business decision, aimed at making more money.
  • by PrimeWaveZ (513534) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:40AM (#24000413)

    Because even as someone who works on those models, I really hate opening the glass/aluminum iMac models. Suction cups and dust rollers bug the crap out of me.

    I would not, however, ever pay Apple for RAM upgrades. EVER. Unless I hit the lottery and didn't care about the extra $$$.

  • by Suzuran (163234) on Monday June 30, 2008 @10:54AM (#24000711)

    When Apple sells you upgrade hardware, they guarantee the upgrade hardware you bought works with the hardware you have. This guarantee places them at legal liability; You can sue them if it ends up being broken and they refuse to fix it. If you go buy RAM from the big-box store they do not guarantee it will work in your computer. Apple does. You are paying for their legal liability if the memory ends up being out-of-spec or something.

    You could say the same thing about IBM selling parts for zSeries machines, or Sun and Sun parts. This is not uncommon in the workstation and higher markets. It is uncommon for PCs, and since the average slashbot has never seen anything other than PCs, they don't understand it.

    Besides that, if the price is too high, don't buy it. There is no grounds on which to demonize Apple for charging what the market will bear. Apple (or Dell, or anyone else) is under no obligation to provide you a computer at whatever price you believe to be reasonable. You are not entitled to a Macintosh. (Insert California government joke here.) They charge what they want, and you pay them if you are willing. If you don't want to pay Apple's premium, don't pay it. If there are not enough buyers willing to pay the prices Apple sets, they will eventually be forced to lower their prices or go out of business. This is like me demanding IBM sell me a 2066 for $1500 because "disks are disks and it's just a big PC anyway, and I could build one off Newegg for $700"

  • by Illbay (700081) on Monday June 30, 2008 @11:01AM (#24000855) Journal
    I was a teen in the 70s, and "rip-off" was part of our jargon.


    A "rip-off" is unwitting theft or cheating. To "rip-off" someone, as a verb, is to steal from, hoodwink, or otherwise cheat someone else who is not privy to what is happening before the fact.

    In this case, it is obvious that anyone doing their casual homework can figure out they are paying a premium for the same hardware on an Apple machine vs. a Dell or HP. This is hardly a "rip-off." It is simply the market at work.

    Apparently, Apple feels that their customers are willing to pay that premium. They are charging what the market will bear. That's not a "rip-off."

    An example of the latter would be a "switcheroo," substituting inferior components for what was advertised, for instance.

    NOTE: I DO NOT OWN OR USE APPLE'S COMPUTER PRODUCTS; I OWN ONE 80GB IPOD "CLASSIC, AND THAT'S IT. I JUST LIKE PRECISE LANGUAGE.

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