What are the folks who are pushing the Apple MacBook smoking? Are they willing to share?

I was researching a new laptop for work. I’ve used Linux and Windows computers mostly, but I have to admit I’ve been mildly piqued by the popularity of Apple’s Mac computers. I used an Apple once, a very long time ago, in an undergraduate “intro to programming” class. It was a Macintosh and I hated it: PCs weren’t all that great back then, but this Mac was slow as hell and took forever to run my programs from a floppy disk.

Since so many “smart,” “artsy,” and “hip” folks swear by their Macs these days, I thought I’d forget the past and take another look in Macs’ direction. So I hit Apple’s online store and headed for the MacBook section. I first noticed the base prices, which started at $1099. Kind of high, I thought, since most PC notebooks seem to start out much lower and then increase in price with additional power, bells, and whistles.

Then I noticed something odd: there were three main models listed at increasing prices. You’d think that meant low-end to high-end, wouldn’t you? Well, see for yourself:

MacBook prices

OK, all have 13-inch screens, and the features of the first one make it a bit on the lower-end in comparison. But the middle and third models aren’t all that different; in fact, although one is $200 more than the other, the only two differences are 40GB in hard drive space (what’s that worth: a few dollars, maybe?), and the kicker: one is white, and the other is black. Is color worth about $200?

In disbelief and thinking I must have been missing something, I fired up a chat session with an Apple sales rep. When I asked whether theywere really charging that much more for black vs. white, he called mine an “astute observation” <?> and confirmed that, in essence, buyers were paying more for this “hot new color”.

Since when are black computers “hot,” let alone “new”?

So, is the point that Mac users are so trendy that they don’t mind paying a significant amount of extra money just for a computer of a different color? Or that Apple’s banking on their consumers to be not quite as “astute” as to notice exactly what they’re buying? Or is it just that “black is the new black”?


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