A sting in the tail for Apple Users?

There have been a couple of articles in the last week that have really got me thinking about the consequence of using products from the world’s most valuable brand.

The first article that appeared in wired magazine shows that the Ratio of PC to Mac Sales Narrowing to Lowest Level in Over a Decade. Whilst the article cites that industries that use video and photo editing are typically Mac-centric, I think it is easy to see their use in many more scenarios than this.

For the better part of the last two decades, former Apple CEO Steve Jobs focused on the outward appearance of his company’s products with an enthusiasm unmatched by his competitors. The unique designs that resulted from this obsession have given Mac products the “hip” image that they enjoy today. However, this ‘hip’ image also comes at a premium on acquisition, particularly when you consider that if you take apart a Mac computer, and you take apart a PC, you will find that they use the same parts and components. Both have: a motherboard, processor, RAM memory, graphics card, optical drive, hard drive etc.

However, they do not use the same software which brings me to another hidden cost that I had not heard of until recently.

Over the weekend I read an article in the WSJ that stated Apple Mac users booking holidays on the travel firm Orbitz’s web-site were paying up to 30% more than Windows PC users! Mainly because they could and would.

Orbitz are defending the tactic as an ‘experiment’ and believe some of the data has been taken out of context, with their CEO commenting: “However, just as Mac users are willing to pay more for higher end computers, at Orbitz we’ve seen that Mac users are 40% more likely to book 4 or 5-star hotels as compared to PC users, and that’s just one of many factors that determine which hotels to recommend a given customer as part of our efforts to show customers the most relevant hotels possible.”

So basically their website was interpreting the type of software accessing their content and then used advanced algorithms to render the more expensive options if it was Apple based. Whilst this has created a flurry of social media objection and conjecture, marketing data for this company showed that Mac users are associated with a somewhat richer demographic than PC users and Orbitz CEO Barney Harford defends their position stating that its software is simply showing users what it thinks they will want to see and buy.

The WSJ believes that the sort of target marketing undertaken by Orbitz will become more commonplace in the future as retailers become bigger users of predictive analytics.

Clearly, the challenge with this approach is that there is an assumption that if you use a Mac, then you stand out as a big spender. Whether it is true or not, I sense that other organisations will soon follow suit and will try to see that you place bigger orders as a result. In theses austere times, its just another factor of cost that sometimes isn’t considered by the more well heeled advocates of completely corporate wide BYOD scheme.

Personally, I think it’s just another example of how quickly the dynamics of the workplace and technology are moving – and as an Apple user myself I’ll be keeping a keen eye on my purchases!

In you are interested, you can read the WSJ article here

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About Pierre Hall

Pierre is Business Line Director for Computacenter's Workplace & Software solutions.

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