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  • Newsletter #398 Preview: When is the Best Time to Buy a New Mac?

    July 15th, 2007

    A couple of months back, a friend called and asked me whether it was a good time to buy a new iMac. I thought about it for a moment, and I was ambivalent about an answer. You see it’s not quite as easy as it used to be to guess Apple’s moves.

    As you probably know, it wasn’t so long ago that Apple reserved the introduction of new Macs to the Macworld trade show. But that began to change when there were no longer two Macworlds every year. Now, Apple introduces new products throughout the year, sometimes during a special press briefing, but just as often with a simple press release, if the product represents just a minor update, such as a Mac with a faster processor.

    Regardless of venue, you could generally predict when a model was due for an upgrade. It would often happen on a six- or nine-month cycle. When Apple switched to Intel processors, on the surface, things seemed more predictable. Intel has a very public processor roadmap. When they come out with a new product line, isn’t a new Mac just around the corner?

    That would seem logical, but it hasn’t quite turned out that way.

    Story continued in this week’s Tech Night Owl Newsletter.



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    6 Responses to “Newsletter #398 Preview: When is the Best Time to Buy a New Mac?”

    1. Steve W says:

      The best time to buy a new Mac, or any other hi-tech gear, is when you need it. In a business, this is when the opportunity costs of not having it exceed any possible savings that might be accrued by waiting.

      It is hard for a consumer to cost-justify a new computer purchase while their old one is still working. The last few years AAPL has been a better buy than the Mac. If you can afford to wait six months, then why not twelve? Eighteen?

      I want a new laptop, but my dual USB iBook (500 MHz) just won’t die. AAPL is not co-operating, either.

    2. The best time to buy a new Mac, or any other hi-tech gear, is when you need it. In a business, this is when the opportunity costs of not having it exceed any possible savings that might be accrued by waiting.

      It is hard for a consumer to cost-justify a new computer purchase while their old one is still working. The last few years AAPL has been a better buy than the Mac. If you can afford to wait six months, then why not twelve? Eighteen?

      I want a new laptop, but my dual USB iBook (500 MHz) just won’t die. AAPL is not co-operating, either.

      Well, this raises lots and lots of fascinating possibilities. I would just take a few of my AAPL earnings — if I had any — and buy a new computer to help, in a small way, to keep the AAPL earnings high.

      Peace,
      Gene

    3. David W says:

      The best time to buy anything from Apple is one month after a new model is introduced. At that point you’re virtually guaranteed to avoid seeing your new item replaced within a few weeks (Mac IIvx and iSight equipped G5 iMac buyers being the unfortunate exceptions) and most serious bugs will have been squashed.

      Over time Apple’s manufacturing costs go down yet they almost never reduce prices of shipping models. That means the true value of the device (even ones that haven’t been assembled yet) drops over time. This is particularly true in the iPod sphere where units that looked good from a features/capacity standpoint last year now appear woefully out of date. Apple still wants $50 more for the 4GB nano when it now contains only $8 more flash than the 2GB model. The iPod with video is essentially a 2005 model with a 2006 price. Hardly something anyone should be considering.

      Almost every other technology company reduces prices over time. I find it remarkable that Apple customers are so willing to give their money to AAPL shareholders.

    4. Dana Sutton says:

      One of the very few actual millionaires I’ve ever met has a long-standing policy of buying last year’s model car, usually a lease return, as long as it comes with a full factory warantee. That’s not how he got his bucks, but it’s one of the ways he manages to hang on to the ones he already has. If money matters to you, one could apply the same logic to buying Macs: find the spiffy one you want in their lineup right now, wait until just after its replaced by a newer model, then grab one, either on clearance sale from one of the big jobbers who send you all those catalogues (“blowout” is their code word for “clearance”), or a refurb from the Apple store. (Note: when you buy one of their refurbs they will advertise it with a certain configuration,. What they really mean is that they guarantee it will have at least that configuration, but if the previous owner has upgraded the particular box by adding more memory or whatever they’ll pass it on to you free of charge, you can have a really pleasant surprise).

    5. The best time to buy a new Mac is when a substantial upgrade has been announced along with a new operating system, iLife, and iWork.

    6. Andrew says:

      I’d say the best time is when you need it.

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