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Are Those New Macs Just Too Pricey?

Are Those New Macs Just Too Pricey?
October 24, 2012 10:30PM

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While many Apple competitors need to price low to have a fighting chance, Apple has a customer base with a legendary love of being early adopters. That cult-like loyalty and need to buy the latest and greatest enables Apple to introduce new products, like this week's iMacs and 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display (shown here) at a premium price.

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Notable among Apple's upgrades this week is the 13-inch MacBook Pro, shown above, now featuring a Retina display and all-flash storage. The new MacBook Pro is 20 percent thinner and almost a pound lighter than the current-generation model.

The new Pro packs more than 4 million pixels into its 13-inch Retina display. That's nearly twice the number of pixels in an HD television. At 227 pixels per inch, the Retina display's pixel density is so high, the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels at a normal viewing distance, so images look sharp and text looks like it does on a printed page.

What does all this mean practically? With four times the pixels of the current 13-inch MacBook Pro, consumers can view and edit video in pixel-accurate 1080p and see a new level of detail in high resolution images. The 13-inch Retina display uses IPS technology for a 178-degree wide viewing angle, and has 75 percent less reflection and 28 percent higher contrast than the current generation.

New iMacs for the Desktop

This week Apple also introduced a completely new iMac -- designed especially for speed, using a third-generation, quad-core Intel Core i5 processor that can be upgraded to an even faster Core i7. Graphics performance also is improved, with Nvidia GeForce processors that deliver up to 60 percent faster rendering for advanced gaming and other graphics-intensive apps.

Noteworthy in the new iMac is the Fusion Drive, a storage option that gives customers the performance of flash storage and the capacity of a hard drive. It combines 128 GB of flash memory with a standard 1 TB or 3 TB hard drive to create a single storage volume that manages files to optimize read and write performance. Fusion Drive automatically moves the files and apps consumers use most often to flash storage to offer faster performance and quicker access.

Is Apple Pricing Itself Out of the Market?

All these innovations come at a price and could be a deal-breaker for more cost-conscious buyers.

The 21.5-inch iMac, with prices starting at $1,299, is expected to be available next month. The larger, 27-inch model with prices starting at $1,799 will follow in December. The MacBook Pro is even pricier, starting at $1,699.

While some think that Apple may be pricing itself out of the PC market, analyst Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee disagrees. Wu said the debut of the new MacBook Pro and iMacs won't mark the first time analysts have questioned Apple's premium pricing strategy.

"We have seen [this kind of premium pricing] with the iPhone, iPod, Macs, and even iPad," Wu told us. "Apple has a strong track record in pricing to optimize volume and profits," as well as a very loyal customer base.

Those advantages are key, along with the fact that so many Apple loyalists enjoy being early adopters, eager to get their hands on Apple's latest and greatest.

In contrast, Wu pointed out, most of Apple's competitors "need to price low to have a fighting chance."

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