Originally Posted by DrBoar
Now you can buy a Del XPS 420 at close to 1/3 of the price of the powermacs if you settle for a slightly slower CPU and a much better GPU and RAM that is half the price of the type Apple has to use for their woodcrests.
I just went to the Dell and Apple online stores and built as near to identical baseline 2.66 GHz quad core machines as I could. The MacPro came out almost $500 less than the Dell workstation. I have one of those Dell machines at work, and while its a nice machine it isn't of the same build quality and design calibre as the MacPro. And the Dell's video card had half the VRAM of the Mac's, even though it was arguably a bit higher performance -- but I wasn't pushing the GPU on purpose because, argue all you want, even the "lowly" 7300GT is just fine for many (if not most) users. Dell still sells lots of these workstations, by the way, so there must be good reasons to choose them over the XPS 420 and its ilk (I know what the reasons are, so don't bother telling me).
So what's really
the issue here? It is that Apple simply does not have a plain-vanilla Mac that targets the market that PCs have dominated for the past 20+ years. Apple has the iMac because it can do that style of machine better than pretty much anyone else (note the use of the word "style"). Apple has the iMac mini because it too has a market segment that isn't flooded with competitors. And Apple has the MacPro for the high-end workstation market because they like the margins and having the mindshare of the pros who use their high-end software to do work that is substantial enough to justify spending a few grand more on a machine. Sorry if you're not part of those target markets.Should
Apple step back into the low-end of the generic PC market? They've been there before, so they know what its like. They aren't there now most likely because the margins suck and the competition is stiff. Apple isn't setup to compete in the "we're all the same, selling for cutthroat prices" market, and personally I don't want them to be. They are much more interesting the way they are. When they tried to be in that part of the market they were lost and wandering aimlessly, and nearly folded up shop.
On the other hand, there is something to be said for a single-chip built-to-order machine with lots of options. I think the MacPro design is great, but it is more robust than I need at home. I also don't need the high-end Xeon processors and FB RAM. I would like a choice of video cards, and the option to put in a couple of desktop-class hard drives and maybe 2 optical drives. Intel has a vast selection of chips and chipsets that fill this market (hence the XPS 420 and all its multitude of competitors) so it is easier than ever before for Apple to build such a machine. If they did that though, it would erode the fringes of the iMac, iMac mini, and MacPro markets where their margins are better. And the cost of doing business in the market we're talking about is not inconsiderable... they'd be expected to keep pace with the absolute latest processors, memory, drives, gpus, etc. I'm tempted to think that they should offer such a machine only
via their online BTO store, and outsource construction of it to another company (Intel directly? [actually after I wrote this I realized that pretty much everybody already outsources things to Taiwan and China so this would mostly just amount to an expanded arrangement with an existing supplier]). Keep the Apple label on it, but keep it out of the Apple Stores (and other retail) and stay with the Dell business model for that particular class of machine. It would make a particular market segment happier, and would minimize the disruption to their other lines.