Originally Posted by Trajan Long
Interesting watching Dell's fall from greatness. Back in the day they used to at least offer ALL the latest and greatest hardware so the customer could max out performance, if so desired. Then they adopted the "its good enough for the masses" idiots philosophy which is stock in trade for bean counters, and since then, major decline. I think this is what Apple may be doing as they abandon their most loyal and biggest spending high end power users who want Mac pros and 17" Macbook Pros with lots of options. The reverse halo effect is never pretty.
Not quite. Dell went after high volume at the expense of profits and lowered quality. They only ship something like 3x Apple's volume but make 5% or less net margin vs Apple's 20-25%. Not only that, Apple's average selling price is significantly higher.
They also didn't have a plan B. They saturated their primary market by selling too much too soon and didn't bother thinking about what to do when that happened. They have no real place in the 'post-pc' market.
This is nothing like what Apple is doing at all. Dell also has a healthy workstation market so they didn't sacrifice it in favour of consumers:
"Dell doesn't report operating margins by product category, but if it did there seems little doubt that the enterprise system business is propping up the PC client business, much as was the case with IBM before it sold off its PC business to Lenovo."
In terms of loyalty, Mac Pro buyers think they are the most loyal and biggest spending customers, even when posting things like this:
Buy used or hang onto an old Mac Pro, buy 3rd party components to spec it up and avoid paying for a new one. Guess how much Apple gets out of that. Doing everything possible to avoid paying Apple money is the polar opposite of loyalty.
Apple is currently providing for their most loyal customers - the iMac, Mini, MBA and Macbook Pro buyers, who upgrade regularly and pay for their BTO options. The 17" MBP most likely wasn't regularly upgraded due to the initial price. Apple could bring it back if there's a price gap when the rMBP price drops but 17" MBP buyers are no more important than 15" MBP buyers. There is an assumption that paying $2500 for a machine makes you a better customer than one paying $1800. It's not the case unless they have the same upgrade cycle, which is not likely, given that one of the primary reasons people give for paying more is 'it lasts longer'.
There's no sense in abandoning a high profit margin sector for the sake of it and Apple hasn't for now but it wouldn't affect the company in either the short or long term if they did. Apple is continuing to deliver quality products at a premium with high resolution, anti-glare, IPS displays with the highest-end desktop/laptop CPUs Intel offers with high performance features like Thunderbolt, fast GPUs and fast SSD drives.