updated 07:15 pm EDT, Thu April 9, 2009
Microsoft skews Apple Tax
Microsoft has expanded its "Apple Tax" marketing campaign with a white paper (PDF) from analyst Roger Kay, although several of the price comparisons appear to be skewed. The company posted a mock up tax return showing the savings of purchasing two Windows systems compared with two Mac systems, suggesting that a family could save over $3,300. The price difference is derived from the initial cost of machines, future upgrades, software and services.
The research apparently concluded that the best desktop systems to compare were the Mac Pro and HP's d5100t. The professional-level Apple machine costs nearly $1500 more than the consumer-oriented HP product, although the iMac series arguably offers a similar set of features to the d5100t.
Microsoft also assumes that the PC buyers already own copies of Quicken and Microsoft Office, as CNET News pointed out. The analyst added $70 and $149 to the Mac tally, while omitting the software cost from the PC purchases. Under Kay's model, the PC users would also decline any upgrades through the hypothetical five-year period.
For the Mac software, the report adds a $99 iLife upgrade in year three. Customers are not required to upgrade, as they could continue using the earlier version that shipped with the Mac for free.
The white paper also equates AppleCare service on the Mac side with a three-year extended warranty for the PCs, despite the clear differences in the two programs. Along with AppleCare, Kay added Apple's in-store consulting service without tacking on a similar cost on the PC side. The report also included the optional MobileMe service on the Mac list.
When CNET News questioned Kay about the discrepancies, he claimed to have already shaved many of the Mac costs that were first presented to him by Microsoft. "If there's a couple more in there, I wouldn't be surprised," he said. "If I found another $500 (in savings) it wouldn't change things much."
"You could have chosen another machine," Kay said, referring to the Mac Pro. He argued that PCs allow customers to shop around. "That particular piece of the economics seems to hold up pretty well."