Apple surpassed Exxon Mobil Corporation to become the company with the highest market cap after trading on Wednesday. It’s an achievement that comes as the result of a long, steady climb for Apple, aided in no small part by the iPhone and the iPad.
In case you needed a reminder that Apple isn’t the scrappy little tech company that could anymore, yesterday its stock climbed to $292.76 on the Nasdaq, leading to a total market value of $267.5 billion, which made it the second-highest listed company behind Exxon Mobil.
It wasn’t until the late 1970s that bottled water started catching on in the U.S. to become the market it is today, representing 28.9 percent of the U.S. beverage market. Is Apple’s scheme to rent TV shows online at $0.99 per episode a similar watershed moment?
Apple’s new Mac mini has a number of great new features including an updated case, an HDMI port and a speed bump in specs, but what’s not so great is its value proposition when compared to an iMac or MacBook.
AppleGazette’s Kevin Whipps addresses the quandary over how to choose between a MacBook and a MacBook Pro, noting that it used to be that if you wanted a 13-inch Mac laptop (excluding the MacBook Air), the only option was the original MacBook. Now with a 13-inch aluminum MacBook Pro on the market, the decision has become more complex.
Kevin allows that the 13″ MacBook Pro doesn’t give you a lot more value for your dollar, comparatively. I beg to differ, but there’s a large element of subjectivity in any such judgment, with many variables such as how much you value FireWire support (some of us a lot), how important a SD Card slot is to your needs, and whether the premium look, fit, finish, and durability of the Pro’s aluminum unibody construction justifies the 20 percent higher price.
20 Percent Higher Price — 20 Percent More Value?
Personally, I think these factors do add up to 20 percent more real value and then some, although Kevin has a point about the two machines being pretty much clones when it comes to core computing power. For example, it now appears that even Apple’s nominal 4GB maximum RAM upgrade spec for the MacBook is completely arbitrary. OWC is offering 8GB memory upgrade kits for the plastic unibody MacBook.
The MacBook comes with a 250GB hard drive, which is more than respectable for standard equipment, especially since the 13″ MacBook Pro’s base $1,199 model comes with a more modest 160GB drive. With the MacBook, 320GB and 500GB drives are BTO options, but that bumps the price to MacBook Pro levels. Read More about MacBook vs. MacBook Pro: Which Should You Buy?
ChannelWeb’s Steven Burke says that in the manifold comparisons of Windows 7 (s msft) with Snow Leopard (s aapl) burning up the Web, what all the reviewers and pundits seem to be forgetting is that it’s not about the operating system, which he maintains is simply the engine that runs the PC. As Burke puts it, you don’t go into a car dealership and buy an engine. You buy a car, and in his opinion, starting October 22, there will be no better ride available for the money than Windows 7.
Burke leans heavily on the initial purchase price angle, noting that an Apple Mac Pro desktop he cites as an example is nearly four times the price of an HP Pavilion, asking rhetorically whether anyone really believes the Mac is four times better than the HP Pavilion? I think some of us would argue that the value is there under the right circumstances, but it would’ve been more relevant to compare a mainstream Mac model such as the iMac or MacBook to their still admittedly cheaper, but not so dramatically so, Windows competition.
Apple Ignoring “Economic Reality?”
Burke accuses Apple and company CEO Steve Jobs of not considering “economic reality,” and having no interest in producing mass-market PCs, which is fair comment I suppose. However I’m constrained to observe that as Forbes’ Brian Caulfield pointed out last weekend, over the past year, banks have collapsed, PC sales have plummeted, unemployment has soared, and Steve Jobs went on mysterious medical leave for a liver transplant, but meanwhile Apple has thrived through all this with sales and earnings down less than everyone else in the industry and actually up year-over-year — on Monday reporting the company’s best quarter ever and a net quarterly profit of $1.67 billion on revenues of $9.87 billion. Consequently the question is begged as to who is and is not considering economic reality. Read More about Snow Leopard Still a Better Ride Than Windows 7, Even for the Not-Rich
Earlier this week, Apple (s aapl) held its keynote address for the annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). At the event, it announced many things, including new upgrades and pricing for its notebook lineup, official and final details regarding OS X Snow Leopard and iPhone OS 3.0, and a new iPhone, the iPhone 3G S, which borrows a lot from its predecessor the iPhone 3G. So much so, in fact, that many are questioning the value of upgrading to the new hardware, especially given that it may cost existing AT&T customers as much as $699 to do so.
As a general tech enthusiast, and an Apple fan, I’m considering the upgrade myself, despite the fact that pricing could be even more expensive here in Canada, where iPhones come with lovely three-year contracts, and I only just purchased my iPhone 3G 11 months ago. However, the upgrade pricing is not all that ridiculous when you consider the cost of the hardware and how massive the subsidies are when you buy the contract along with the phone. If you have the money, and if the hardware is worth it, then there’s nothing to complain about.
But is the hardware worth it? At least, can it bring something to my work and professional life that I couldn’t get with the iPhone 3G? The answer to this question could go a long way to helping me decide whether to upgrade or stick with what I’ve already got. Here are the factors to consider, in my opinion. Read More about Weighing the Web Working Benefits of the iPhone 3G S
A Mac laptop question I’ve been getting asked over the past few months is which 13-inch MacBook is the better value — the posh aluminum unibody model, or the $300 cheaper carryover white polycarbonate unit, which, after two substantial updates in 2009, had been upgraded to pretty closely match the more expensive machine performance-wise, and had the bonus of a FireWire port, which the unibody didn’t.
My take has been that it’s a nice sort of dilemma, since you really couldn’t go wrong. Both models offered excellent value — more computer for the money than ever before in Apple (s aapl) portables.
However, the Mac portable landscape, and the relative value equation for these two models, shifted dramatically with the MacBook Pro line announcements at WWDC, and I can now declare a clear value-leader. The renamed, upgraded, and price-chopped 13-inch MacBook Pro now wins at a walk, retaining all the goodness of the aluminum MacBook but with a boatload of value added, along with a $100 price reduction. You really can’t go wrong with the new baby MacBook Pro now having a FireWire port restored and the welcome addition of an SD Card slot for good measure — something that’s never been seen before on an Apple laptop. You also get a backlit keyboard, a quarter-gigabyte more clock speed, and a built-in battery claimed to go up to seven hours between recharges.
The WhiteBook, now sole designate of the plain “MacBook” name, is still a formidable machine for $200 cheaper if you’re on a tight budget. Last week, prior to WWDC, Apple refreshed the white MacBook, quietly bumping the Core 2 Duo clock speed to 2.13GHz, the RAM speed to 800MHz, and matched the base unibody’s 160GB standard hardware drive capacity (upgradable to 500GB), which for a brief interval actually made the price-leader MacBook faster than the more expensive base unibody. But no longer. Here’s how it all shapes up between the WhiteBook and the 13-inch MacBook Pro now that the dust has settled a bit. Read More about Value Shootout: White 13″ MacBook vs. Unibody 13″ MacBook Pro
One detail that escaped mention during the keynote presentation at Apple’s WWDC earlier this week likely does not sit well with users still clutching their beloved G4 machines, namely that OS X 10.6, also know as Snow Leopard, will finally drop PowerPC support and only run on Intel (s intc) Macs. It’s unfortunate for people attached to their eMacs and 12-inch Powerbooks, especially given that Snow Leopard appears to be more resource-efficient than Leopard ever was.
Yes, it’s unfortunate, but it also makes sense from Apple’s (s aapl) perspective. The company hasn’t released a PowerPC computer since October 2005, which will be nearly four years ago when Snow Leopard is released in September. Four years might not be a long time to own a car or a refrigerator, but with computers, it’s a lifetime. Just think about the difference between the original MacBook and the 13-inch MacBook Pro announced this past Tuesday. Read More about Apple Officially Puts PowerPC Behind Them With Snow Leopard
In my look at the various rumors, one thing I stated was that the price was out of line. I based this on the value of the machine, not the usual ramblings from pundits about the economy. In my view, the mini is overpriced and the upgrades — which only make the machine more modern after nearly a year of stagnation — wouldn’t be enough. Oh, and thanks Apple for pulling the remote from the package, I’d probably just lose it anyway.
Unfortunately, there was no price change, and Apple did nothing beyond the updates to bridge the value gap. The base mini comes with 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. That’s laughable. In a day when even the old, white plastic MacBook comes with 2GB, the base mini is still left stuck at one. Apple has all but admitted that 1GB isn’t enough and yet, there’s the mini, sitting there under-performing. A desktop, machine no less. Read More about Apple Updates the Mac Mini: More Modern, Even Worse Value