Apple Tax, Apple netbooks

Apple has come under attack recently by Microsoft, with Redmond claiming that Mac users face a hidden 'Apple Tax' by buying Macs

Tags: Apple Incorporated
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By  Mark Sutton Published  April 23, 2009

Apple has come under attack recently by Microsoft, with Redmond claiming that Mac users face a hidden 'Apple Tax' by buying Macs.

Microsoft's VP for Windows consumer marketing, Brad Brooks, said that Apple users have to pay an application tax, to get Windows applications running on a Mac, a technology tax because Macs don't have technologies such as HDMI, e-SATA or Blu-ray and an upgrade tax because Mac are not usually upgradeable. In short - if you want a Mac, and particularly if you want a Mac to do all of the things a Windows PC can do, then you are going to have to pay extra.

The idea met with short shrift from most commentators, who pointed out that a lot of people seem to be happy to pay that 'tax' and that the Mac experience is not the same as going out to buy the cheapest PC or laptop you can find.

There has been some slip in sales of Macs recently, with sales down 3% in Q2 according to Apple's latest results, the first decline in six years, but that is against a backdrop of a depressed market. What's more interesting though, is how a company that prides itself on selling at a premium to the high end of the market might handle the growing emergence of small cheap computers, namely the netbooks that are grabbing market share in the notebook segment.

Apple's initial response to questions about netbooks was that they don't deliver the sort of user experience that Apple likes to give. They also provide a lot of the functionality of a netbook in existing devices like the iTouch (iPod sales up 3% in Q2) and of course the iPhone (sales up 123% in Q2).

Watchers of the company though think they have seen a shift in Apple's position, possibly heralding an Apple launch into something like the netbook sector. Alongside reports that Apple has been ordering 9" and 10" screens and possily contracting Foxconn to build netbooks, Apple COO Tim Cook seemed to hint that there might be something coming up.

When asked by an analyst about netbooks, he once again said that Apple thought the format did not deliver, but then dropped the hint: "If we can find a way when we can deliver an innovative product, then we'll do that. We do have ideas in that space, and the product pipeline for the Mac is fantastic."

So a Mac netbook before the end of the year? It seems likely. I don't think Apple can continue to ignore the buzz around the netbook sector, and if any company can crack the problem of how to get round netbook problems like small screens and keyboards, then its Mac. Just expect that whatever they do deliver, you'll still have to pay that 'Apple Tax' for the experience of it.

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