Sam Brown

MacBook Air's price difference between models

Apple just today announced their new portable laptop model, “the world’s thinnest notebook”, the MacBook Air. I love their description:

MacBook Air is ultrathin, ultraportable and ultra unlike anything else. But you don’t lose inches and pounds overnight. It’s the result of rethinking conventions. Of multiple wireless innovations. And of breakthrough design. With MacBook Air, mobile computing suddenly has a new standard.

Perhaps it should have been called MacBook Ultra. Anyway, what I do find really strange about this gorgeous looking little notebook is the price difference between the two models in the UK.

The base model is a 13 inch 1.6GHz Core 2 Duo with 2GB of memory and an 80GB hard drive at £1,199.. add a whopping £829 and you get a smaller 64GB solid-state hard drive and a 1.8GHz model with the same amount of memory for £2,028. Why the massive price difference?

Update: It appears that these tiny solid-state drives are pretty darn expensive, though they are a fair bit faster than the measly 4200 rpm drives in the base model. Still a costly upgrade in my opinion.

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Pedro 15 January 2008, 15:54 #1

I reckon it’s mostly due to the SSD drive. £829 is still a lot though…

Ross C Brown 15 January 2008, 20:48 #2

My money is on the SSD rather than the extra 200Mhz on the CPU.

A quick Google search suggests that the ‘retail’ price for a 2.5” 64GB SSD is a huge £679.99.

Now, that’s the retail price. I’m sure Apple could negotiate (read: bully) the supplier into a better deal.

But remember the quoted price is for a 2.5” drive – the one in the MBA is a 1.8” drive – I’m guessing that smaller is more costly!

Ross C Brown 16 January 2008, 09:39 #3

To reply to you email, sure we get raped by Apple in the UK. Lets take a closer look at MacBook Air pricing.

In the UK, the starting price is £1199, in the US the last price is $1799. With the help of Google (‘1799USD in GBP’) that works out at £920. Now, that’s really cool if you are in one of the four or so US states that don’t assess sales tax.

In California, home of Apple, statewide sales tax is 7.25% so, again with the help of Google (‘1799*1.0725USD in GBP’ that comes to £985, not £1199!

But do we really want a MacBook Air? Firstly, I have a shiny new MacBook Pro which I have no problem carting about across Edinburgh everyday with my wireless keyboard, mouse and two spare batteries.

The MBA is designed to be a light weight ultraportable that you can take with you everywhere (in a manila envelope if that takes your fancy). But what do you do with it? I carry my computer with me and watch DVDs on the train and or bus. Oh but wait, no optical drive on the MBA.

And I can go a day and a half without visiting an power outlet, but with the MBA it has a non user replaceable batter – so once the five hours of battery are gone, that’s you until you find an outlet.

And with the SSD, how many DVDs could you keep on that? Lets say 45GB is free for you o use (after formatting and OS), you’ll have 10GB of music, 5GB of photos, leaving you with 30GB to fill up with movies. 20 movies?!

But most of the movies I watch on the road are DVDs! DVDs that I’ve picked up at the train station or airport.

Finally, to buy a MBA, I’d have to take a 50min train ride and its not the best train ride so I think I’ll just stick with my MacBook Pro for now.

Unless they do a hybrid MacBook Pro with the 64GB SSD for the OS and a 250GB HDD for storage – then I’d so be there :P

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.