back to article Apple 'real cost' comparison shows inflation beaten mercilessly

A look at how much old Apple products would cost if they were released today doesn't quite show what it hopes to - that the iPad is very good value - but it does provide an interesting insight into the economics of technology. Online deal site has run a table showing key Apple launches of the past 30-odd years, …


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  1. stu 4
    Jobs Halo

    hmm... top MBP not far off that.

    My MBP 17 was £3200. specced with fastest processor, 8gb memory and 250gb solid state.

    which isn't far off $6500....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Yeah.. right..

    That's why apple is always more expensive than any other option.

    iPod: £200-270 depending on store and options

    Sony MP3 player: £99-£150 for equivalent.

    How is that beating inflation?

    Paris.. she helps with my inflation..

  3. Paddy Fagan
    Jobs Halo

    Interesting, but...

    I wonder how the table would appear if you did the same type of analysis, but expressed the price (at launch) as a percentage of the average industrial wage - i.e. how affordable where the products when they first went on sale...


  4. Jeff Power

    I need to put in a title.

    Real cost: $270, according to these folks:

    Think about it. iPad = Netbook - keyboard + touchscreen flattened out a bit. Swap the hard drive for a bit of flash, swap the cheap Atom for a cheaper, less powerful, less power-hungry ARM, swap the MS OS for an Apple one and voilà! iPad. People were "amazed" at $499 as the price. I'm amazed they're asking that much for it.

    They also mention the 3G has an even greater profit margin, as the radio bits only cost $16.

    Quite a bit of room to pay development expenses and make a bit of profit, I would think.

    (Also room for the competition-crushing price drop we'll probably see when the other tablet makers launch their newest devices at current-competitive prices. (Although maybe not, Apple doesn't like to charge less than it has to.)

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I know I'm being thick but

    your observations on the comparisons seem off the point - aren't we being asked to see what those obsolete products cost in today's money, and then revel at the opportunity of buying the technological marvels of today which are x times more powerful at 1/y times the cost of the examples from the past. We've never had it so good.

    I never tire of telling people the first hard drive I bought was £100 for 10Mb. A bargain at the time, which could store all the software in the known universe for the operating system it ran under. Goodness knows what it would be in today's money.

    Makes the 2Tb drive I just bought for £70 seem quite a bargain, though in 10 years time that in turn will seem an extortionate price.

    And yes, as you so correctly but rather pointlessly observe, no one would give you a pee for a 10Mb drive now. This is now, that was then.

    Thinking about it, I paid £100 for a 1Mb ram board to put in my XT, too. Blimey what a rip off.

  6. Mage Silver badge


    Massively overpriced then, massively overpriced now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Windows more expensive

      Dunno. I've always (twenty years, anyway) felt that Macs were the cheaper option.

      Even after all of this time, using Windows just makes me feel dirty and stupid. I'd be happy to pay double to avoid the experience.

      Of course, maybe Apple will drop the ball one day – I suppose it's an historical necessity – but for the time being, they are the ones who I'll be sending my money to.

  7. bitten
    Dead Vulture

    Moore's law?

    Is Moore's law not about an increase in transistor count and not about a decrease in price

  8. Daniel 1

    My sister's first computer was one of the original PCs

    IBM XT

    It had 640K RAM, 4.7MHz 8086 CPC, 20 MB hard drive, CGA graphics and 16 colour display.

    Bought for her in 1983 by her employers - British Telecom.

    Price? £5,750 ... in 1983! (That's about £18,000 in today's money.)

    (Good value for money, though, since I wrote my PhD thesis on it, ten years later. Lovely keyboard - like a piano)

  9. Kimo

    I'm with AC...

    I'd love to see a chart that shows what the same processing/storage power would cost in today's market. I have a PDA that is more powerful than my first computer, and with far more storage (plus a color screen)), and I paid less in dollars without adjusting for inflation.

  10. Bad Beaver

    About to throw up

    Don't you just love your affluence to be based on cheap, slavish labour – elsewhere?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, that first iPod had a 5GB hard drive

    the iPod touch I bought to replace mine was not only cheaper, but has 4 times the capacity and is infinitely more capable

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    @ Bitten...

    You are indeed correct sir. But let's not let journalistic accuracy get in the way of a good "crib" eh?

  13. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Massive Fail - What about PPP?

    Purchasing Power Parity

    What did a Big Mac cost then? The dollar has been massively devalued since the end of Bretton Woods.

  14. shawnfromnh

    hidden costs

    What about all the hidden costs like all the workers that were laid off permanently when the factories that made all these electronics closed up and moved overseas. What about the unemployment, welfare, and other government help that was paid to all these workers that were jobless. If you include the taxes and social security NOT being paid by workers to the government that all have to be made up by all other people. What about the massive recession it helped cause by relocating the dotcom bubble to a country like China that pays workers so little that they can't buy crap from countries that don't have 3rd world wages.

    Yeah /sarcasm/, these savings are awesome.

    1. skeptical i

      Leave us not forget disposal costs.

      As electronic doo-dads get cheaper, the tendency to replace (and not repair or upgrade) equipment goes up (cost per hour for a tech to diagnose and fix a malfunctioning [whatever] versus schlepping to the nearest Crap Mart and buying a new one, not often a hard choice) and all the discarded things wind up in landfills, possibly leaking toxic stuff into water tables, or incinerated and leaking toxins into the air. While there are responsible firms that recycle many of the components and keep them out of the waste stream, they are too few and do not catch everything. Figure in possible health weirdness costs in successive generations, and also tax increases as municipalities have to site and build new landfills to house our discards.

  15. Rolf Howarth

    Constant price

    The thing that always strike me is how constant the price of home computers has been in purely numeric terms over the past 30 odd years. Decent computers have almost always cost EXACTLY £1000.

    In 1980 I built a homebrew system (4MHz Z80, 96KB of RAM and bitmapped graphics - quite advanced for its time!) for a shade over £1000. I bought my first Mac (a 4MB LC475) in the early 1990s for just over £1000 incl monitor. And my latest 4GB MacBook Pro cost the same as well.

    Weird, huh?

    1. Gav Powell

      You're Overpaying

      By a substantial margin if you're paying a thousand pounds -= that might be what Apple charge, but a self-build PC including a monitor can be at low as £300 including monitor, with maybe 600 for a decent ames machine. I wouldn't dream of paying a thousand for a PC for home use.

  16. Rolf Howarth

    Merciless requirement for a title

    I suspect you and I have different definitions of what consititutes a decent computer. I'm talking about a high end laptop, not throwing together a budget machine. But the same thing applies. In 1980 you could get low end computers for a couple of hundred quid and high end ones for £1000 to £2000. Of course you get something very different these days but near as dammit there's been zero change in price up or down in more than 30 years. Compare that to the cost of a pint of milk, or average incomes, or house prices say.

  17. Gav Powell

    My Definition, in depth

    Event at high end, assuming blu-ray, a 20" screen, core i7, 6GB RAM, 1TB drive, blu ray and a HD5770 gaming graphics card, you're only looking at about 900 quid for a Pc and monitor, and that from 10 minutes' work on ebuyer. As you bought a mac and a laptop at that, you obviously don't need the graphics to be too great, so knock another 100 off that, maybe 130 iif you can manage with onboard graphics. The graphics card means your PSU requirements go down so that's another 20 quid or so we can ditch, and you only got 4GB RAM with your mac, so at least another 50 there.

    If you're going to buy Apple, it will cost you about a thousand pounds. If you buy anything else, it really shouldn't.

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