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How Much Is the Apple Tax?

Apple taxApple announced new notebooks Tuesday, but not before Microsoft unleashed the hounds, ranting about an Apple tax.

The concept, which has merit, is that Apple’s computers cost more than PCs. Just how much? Apple hinted at the number in its press event Tuesday:

Retail share: 17.6 percent market share of unit sales.

Revenue share: 31.3 percent of retail sales.

In other words, where one in five computer sales is an Apple, these account for one of every three dollars spent. Apple has more share of the revenue because its computers cost more.

No matter how you crunch the numbers, they imply that Apple charges at least 50 percent more than other manufacturers, maybe even twice as much. This isn’t a new revelation, but it’s an interesting method used by Microsoft, which doesn’t even manufacture hardware.

Some of the discrepancy in price could be due to the low end of the market. As in, Apple doesn’t produce a cheap laptop and most everyone else does. Many who are in the market for laptops, including the education market Apple is so proud of, are comparing MacBooks to laptops that cost half as much. To them, the Apple tax feels real, even if it’s an unfair comparison.

Though PC makers, like Dell, offer an astoundingly large selection of laptops, it’s still hard to determine exactly what is comparable. Factor in the details that Apple includes to make its machines higher end (or at least seem that way) and you’re quickly comparing apples to…. Oh, you finish the joke.

Many web developers have switched to Mac for reasons beyond hardware features or cost. The built-in Unix-ish command line is comfortable. It’s easy to set up a development environment similar to the servers that hold our code.

Is the Apple tax worth it to you? Regardless of whether you’re an Apple user, what would you want from other computer manufacturers?

Updated to include comparisons to low end of the market

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