Daniel Eran Dilger
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SF Chronicle’s Andrew S. Ross is unintentionally funny on Macs

Daniel Eran Dilger

The website of the San Francisco Chronicle oddly juxtaposed an image of Senator Dianne Feinstein, apparently doing an impression of Janet Reno, under the headline “Analyst sees costly Apple items out of reach” paired with a tag line saying that the Senator “wants bailout cash to be used wisely.” What could possibly be happening here?
The simple explanation: some poorly paid columnist at the (as we locals call it) SF Comical, who has managed to not get fired in the last decade of the newspaper industry’s Intenet-induced killing field layoffs, thought it newsworthy to express how he saved money buying a Dell because he found the new MacBooks to be too expensive before relating any actual news in the same piece, including Feinstein’s legislation seeking to ban Bush Bailout recipients from using the windfall money to lobby the government… perhaps asking for more money, or less regulation? Oh the irony.

Analyst sees costly Apple items out of reach

In any case, Feinstein wasn’t worried about ‘the cost of Apple items,’ unlike some needlessly cited analyst who lives on the coast in a tourist town, who has decided that “Apple is selling Cadillacs to people who can no longer afford them.” Perhaps if that analyst read any newspapers or ventured out of Half Moon Bay to visit one of Apple’s retail stores, he’d be aware that Apple is on track to sell ten million Cadillac Macs this year during an economic downturn that has continued for more than just a year.

Back in January, Apple’s stock tanked on the hysterical fears that the economic downturn would be particularly bad for Apple. However, in the nine months since, the company has reported a series of records sales quarters of more than two and a quarter million Macs each, and most recently set a new record of over 2.6 million Macs sold in a quarter, well above the two million high water mark set last year. Between 2002 and 2004, the company didn’t record a single quarter where it sold more than a million Macs.

The reporter wagged his finger at Apple over charging $1299 for the entry level unibody MacBook, apparently unaware that Apple is also selling the $999 White MacBook as well. “Will the ‘premium Apple experience’ matter compared with $400 rivals that, in this age of cloud computing and so forth, aren’t so very different? May we yet see, after the next quarter’s results, Apple swallowing its hubris?” he wrote.

Which $400 laptop is comparable with the new MacBook, and how did the “cloud computing” buzzword find its way into this sentence? More importantly, are the bailed out banks buying cheap Dell laptops to lobby the government before the door slams shut on the Bush administration?

Perhaps if the Chron was anything more than an AP news regurgitation engine and the employer of sassy yet uninformed wags, it could tell us.

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  • http://home.comcast.net/~daguy daGUY


    “I had been gearing up eagerly to buy one of Apple’s new, sub-$1,000 MacBooks the world had been told to expect. As we know, that price point didn’t transpire. The low-end model costs $1,299…”

    What about that $999 MacBook? True, the $999 is for the white plastic model and not the new aluminum one, but this same computer was selling for $1099 *last week*, and I didn’t hear anyone complaining about the price. Certainly, Apple’s ever-increasing market share shows that this isn’t really an issue.

    “How many people out there are like me is the multimillion-dollar question as Christmas approaches…May we yet see, after the next quarter’s results, Apple swallowing its hubris? How does $899 sound?”

    What exactly makes $899 the magic number? If you’re already willing to spend $900 on a computer, why is the additional $100 a dealbreaker that would send you over to a $400 Dell?

    I think pundits will just always complain about the price of Apple’s computers. It’s just a law of the universe.

  • gus2000

    Yahoo! posted a story in their tech section today about how the new Macbooks were overpriced, and that comparable PCs were half the price. Sadly, the tech media lazily uses the Big Three (CPU Speed, RAM size, and HD size) to determine “comparable”. If only it were that simple.

    I love the internet. But I really miss the press.

  • hodari

    daGuy – 100$ is still 100$ and 100$ in a consumers pocket is better than 100$ in Apples coffer. Secondly, why should I buy a 900$ laptop when a 400$ laptop can do the same thing if not better? I guess it helps when consumers have a choice.

  • rosko


    you ask “why should I buy a 900$ laptop when a 400$ laptop can do the same thing if not better? ”

    If for you personally, the $400 laptop will meet your needs, then by all means buy it. But I think the point of the article was not to say that you SHOULD spend the money on a mac, but rather to point out the SFC’s folly in reporting that Apple is doomed to fail by not addressing the low-price markets.

  • gus2000

    WordPress keeps eating my comments. It makes me sad.

  • benlewis

    While most of the Chon is garbage, I personally feel that Mark Morford is one of the funniest, most insightful columnists at any paper.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~daguy daGUY

    @hodari: “Secondly, why should I buy a 900$ laptop when a 400$ laptop can do the same thing if not better?”

    You shouldn’t. If the $400 laptop does what you need, then by all means, get it.

    I’m just saying this guy’s argument doesn’t make much sense. If you’re already willing to spend $899, then the difference between $899 and $999 is minimal (relatively). But if you’re concerned about price above anything else, then you’re going to opt for the $400 Dell anyway – it doesn’t matter if the MacBook is $899 or $999.

    The thing that’s so comical about this is that analysts have been saying for YEARS that Macs are too expensive – and yet during that whole time, Apple’s market share keeps going up, so obviously price is not the negative factor that pundits keep insisting it is.

    Just this past quarter Apple sold 2.6 million Macs. That’s approaching what they were selling in an entire *year* four or five years ago. How do you explain this while also insisting that Macs are too expensive?

  • mjtomlin

    Why does Dell sell “expensive” computers? Sure they may sell a $400 laptop, but they also sell laptops that reach as high as almost $3000, depending on model and options. The only one reason for this is up-selling. Dell knows there’s no money to be made on cheap laptops. The only segment of the market that makes any kind of money is on the middle-to-higher end, exactly where Apple sits and can in fact compete with the rest of the industry on price, and surpass them on quality. Most Apple customers aren’t going to settle for a $400 PC, if they can’t afford a new Mac, instead they’ll just wait and save. Why? Because of the reason they use Macs in the first place, OS X and Apple’s attention to detail.

    All of these so called analysts overlook the bigger picture as well. If Apple did sell cheaper computers and more of their customers bought those instead of the higher margin systems, Apple wouldn’t be in the position it is right now heading into this “recession”; with a huge freaken stock pile of cash that it can coast on until people start buying again. (Personally, I’d like to see Apple buy its baby back, ARM Holdings. Along with the engineers from PA Semi it would make Apple a formidable player in the mobile and embedded space and of course guarantee them a clear advantage over everyone else in the mobile space.)

  • nomoremsbs

    If Ross really means what he wrote, then he truly is a pitiful man, and if he is writing this for another reason ($) as I suspect, then he is a more pitiful man.

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