Email: Apple Tax

I just hate it when people fudge numbers for their own purposes. I am going to be complete Mac fanboy on this one, I'm sorry. As a disclaimer, however, it's not that I dislike the Windows environment, many of my dear friends use it with very good results; if you like it, go for it. What I don't like is when people try to convince others by showing numbers that aren't trustworthy.

Subject: Apple Tax Redux
Date: 12 April 2009 01:55:45 BST
To: <- (yeah, that's his real e-mail address)

Dear Roger Kay,

I've read your paper titled "What Price Cool?" in which you describe your observations of what you call "Apple Tax" and describe a situation of a family projecting their costs in a 5-year term towards switching to the Mac platform. Interesting read, but I've encountered several issues with the document.

Assuming that the next instalment of the Windows operating system, System 7, will "close the gap" and be a step forward towards the infamous "cool" factor you describe (an assumption which many of us that have already used System 7 may not agree with), it seems to be contradicting the overall objective of your paper. Aren't you touting "cool", which is subject to a product's brand, to be unnecessary? IBM, considered to be THE computer brand when the first version of Windows launched, placed it at the hands of millions of users that already heard of the company in the Industry setting. Microsoft reached all of these users because of IBM's brand marketing, giving it the market share that it has now. I'm obligated to state that, to the contrary of what you may think, there's no "conspiracy theory" here.

For the normal consumer, at first, there was no other better alternative, IBM was it; others came and went, until the IBM clones entered into the picture. Because people didn't need to change much of their workflow when switching to IBM clones, companies, such as Compaq and HP, who offered cheaper alternatives thrived. However, acquiring a machine still needed an initial investment, and many consumers and specially businesses, who are not accustomed to and frankly dislike change, stayed with IBM and Windows.

This is where I found the situation of the theoretical family you've described in the paper a bit confusing. At first I understood that the head of the family was considering either upgrading the family's current hardware or switching to the Mac side with new equipment, which explains why no Office, Quicken, and other software licenses are not shown in the PC side of the spreadsheet. However, the cost of new equipment in the PC side hinted that the head of the family was in fact considering buying new hardware altogether.

Re-reading your paper, various times actually, did not clear up which type of course is the father considering, but the majority of the points describe a situation of acquiring new equipment. If it is this situation, there are some observations that need to be considered which weren't:

- An Office License must also be bought for the two new computers, as well as a Quicken License, which I'm guessing is going to be installed in the main desktop.

- Antivirus and anti-adware software and their respective subscription must also be acquired, as well as registry clean up tools. These are not optional in the windows environment you're describing.

- The Windows PCs also need a 2 hour monthly maintenance, which factors in as time spent with both computers. Two hours on a Sunday is time away from the kids, from the wife, from rest; it does matter. Another, more expensive option is to not do any maintenance whatsoever, and require IT support every so often to re-install everything from scratch.

- There is a great amount of software (mainly iLife) that is included inside Apple computers, which are not considered in the PC side of the spreadsheet. This software is helpful in the already established workflow of a family such as the one you've described. A set of substitute software must also be added in the PC side, as well as their upgrade in the 3-year time, if an honest comparison is to be made. Also, two licenses of each of these substitutes should be bought and upgraded for each computer, as the iLife family package already accounts for the whole family.

It can be argued that the iLife software should not be factored in, as it is probable that some software may not be actively used, however, as you've added the MobileMe subscription (which many Apple users don't actively use), it seems only fair to consider EVERYTHING that the user is investing in when buying the hardware.

I've attached a recalculation of your projections having all of what I described in mind. I don't think you'll be surprised how the overall costs of ownership changes when you do an honest comparison.

Thank you for your time.

PS. The fact that Microsoft sponsored your analysis did not surprised me in the least.

Caleb Rascon
Software Developer
Makko Solutions, Co-founder

PhD Student

Click here to download the PDF file with the new projections I attached to the e-mail.

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