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Macs are up to $543 cheaper than Windows PCs, says IBM

For years people have looked at the sticker price of Macs, compared them to the sticker price of Windows PCs made with lesser components, and sneered about the "Apple Tax". What sticker price sneerers never took into account, though, were the additional benefits that came with the Mac: Free software, lower support costs, AppleCare support, higher resale value, and the list goes on.

IBM, given their scale, can't just worry about sticker price. They have to worry about total cost of ownership (TCO). So, after making Mac an option in their enterprise, what have they found?

According to JAMF:

In 2015, IBM let their employees decide – Windows or Mac. "The goal was to deliver a great employee choice program and strive to achieve the best Mac program," Previn said. An emerging favorite meant the deployment of 30,000 Macs over the course of the year. But that number has grown. With more employees choosing Mac than ever before, the company now has 90,000 deployed (with only five admins supporting them), making it the largest Mac deployment on earth.But isn't it expensive, and doesn't it overload IT? No. IBM found that not only do PCs drive twice the amount of support calls, they're also three times more expensive. That's right, depending on the model, IBM is saving anywhere from $273 - $543 per Mac compared to a PC, over a four-year lifespan. "And this reflects the best pricing we've ever gotten from Microsoft," Previn said. Multiply that number by the 100,000+ Macs IBM expects to have deployed by the end of the year, and we're talking some serious savings.Needless to say, the employees at IBM got it right. And with 73% of them saying they want their next computer to be a Mac, the success will only increase with time.

Only 3.5% of Mac users are calling the help desk vs. 25% of PC users. That's tremendous.

Back when I worked as a designer in enterprise, I got a new high-end Dell laptop every year, complete with on-site service. It broke down regularly, the chassis cracked, and the last one, which ran Vista, booted up saying there were no drivers to support the graphics card it shipped with.

Eventually, the IT department told me to "just get a Mac". I did. A MacBook Pro. It lasted me three years and then went to someone else and lasted three more, and in that time zero support calls were needed.

That's anecdotal, of course, but IBM is data. And it's something everyone should consider before buying their next computer.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

65 Comments
  • Wonder how the trolls will spin this.....wait for it....("Rene is SO biased!") In the meantime, even though Mac users who switched from PCs already knew this, thanks for the report! Sent from the iMore App
  • Even if Rene is biased it doesn't matter, the quote explains it all
  • This article is just full of **** and terribly biased, so it doesn't matter.
  • Butthurt much? Lol! Sent from the iMore App
  • You literally just took the bait. Well done for proving emjayess right
  • But... Rene is biased
  • Rene writes an article citing IBM data, and all of a sudden this is proof he's not biased? You guys are so ridiculous and it's clear you don't read any other mobile nations sites in any real capacity. This is the guy that just wrote a pure bs article about how the pixel is getting a pass from everyone and everywhere. Total and utter BS. EVERY single review has admonished Google for the boring/ugly design and the lack of waterproofing, the lack of stereo speakers and so on. The consensus from android central readership is also clear and very vocal about the shortcomings of the pixel. Rene relies on his readers being blindly loyal to apple like he is so they aren't aware of reality that there are other products out there which are superior to apple products in some ways, and that those qualities might be important enough for many people to choose them instead.
  • Well, Rene IS ridiculously biased, but he's just the messenger here. It's IBM who said that Macs are cheaper over time.
  • In your opinion, he's biased. In reality, he's objective when writing his articles
  • As I've said to my friends, if you're comparing the two systems then you have to go with high-end machines on both sides. Comparing a MacBook Pro with a low quality HP or Dell machine isn't worth it. The price tag of the latter doesn't mean you're saving money if the specs aren't even comparable. Get a high end laptop (like the Alienware laptop that I have right now) with SSD storage and more and then do the comparison. And let me just say, my alienware is almost 2 year old now and it's still running/functioning like new - which is saying something in itself. In a nutshell, if you opt for a cheaper PC then I certainly believe that cost savings will be quite expensive overall. But an excellent PC will have a similar or expensive even, price tag than the Mac. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I did something similar 8 years ago. (First holy ****), but I was in a deep toss up between an alienware and a Mac. I chose the Alienware based on the customization. Honestly the lights, the customization, the specs, it was awesome. Problem was hauling it around. After 8 months of doing it and some other issues, I traded* it for a Macbook purely on the fact that I could carry it easier and OS X. That Macbook was just beginning to show its rust about 3 years ago though I had installed a SSD into it.
  • Until you need a repair. Also he’s talking about in a business wait until you have it come out of your own pocket.
  • Having worked in support with both environments I would definitely recommend any company to go with Apple. The level of support required is almost night and day. Macs aren't as feature rich which is why a lot of our guys run VMs. So you get it all.
  • May I question why you think Macs aren't as feature rich? Only saying this because I started using Macs (for work and personal use) thinking I was going to possibly have issues finding certain apps and I've not had that issue at all. The only think I need Windows for is games, although more and more are supporting macOS now
  • From a business standpoint there's a lot that our software development team can't do on MacOS. There are also inventory applications we run that don't run on Mac. From a personal level I'm sure many people will be just fine with MacOS. But I'd imagine many large companies can't run without windows at some level.
  • I love MacBooks and would use one if it were up to me at work. But as someone who has worked at several large and medium sized enterprise software shops, I can assure you that unfortunately for now there are still way too many apps including security apps that don't work on MacOS yet. Over time as more people use Macs for business purposes, this will change. Sent from the iMore App
  • You have to be cautious when using MacOS in a corporate setting. Sure, the hardware is incredible and can endure the rigors of mobile computing. However, that's only a sliver of the overall total cost of ownership. The only reason why IBM can offer MacOS is because they've moved all their MICROSOFT applications to the cloud and Apple devices are simply operating as terminals into the Win32 apps sitting on a hybrid cloud environment. Installing a virtual machine on an Apple device actually doubles the support costs (i.e. soft costs) in a corporate setting. Now you have to handle the complexities of administering two operating systems on one device. Add to that the network complexities of two MACs on the same network port - ask a network admin how much he (or she) enjoys this - and the security implications of data travelling to (and fro) the MacOS and Virtual Desktop - just ask a CSO how much he (or she) enjoys this as well. You see, this IBM article is indeed factual, but it's taken out of context and thus presents an angle favorable to the Apple community. The truth is, you'd get the same savings moving to ChromeOS. I'd love to sit and chat with the person claiming these savings to see how they account for Microsoft VDA licensing, the additional costs associated with Citrix Receiver licensing, the number of ACTUAL MAC apps in use versus the Microsoft apps that I KNOW they're still using...
  • Actually the gain is much more than $543. When you buy a Mac, you get a Windows PC for free. And you just pay for the Windows license. Sorry, no bloatware on that PC...
  • No, you don't get a WIndows PC for free. Windows requires a paid-for licence (Windows 10, before you forget, was only a free upgrade, not free for new installation.) You have a machine that is capable of running Windows. But equally, when I buy a Windows PC, the machine is capable of running macOS (although a few hacks are required). Now that that is out of the way, I personally find OSX far less trouble than any version of Windows. I've had my MBA for about 18 months. The number of app/OS crashes/freezes/malfunctions can be counted on one hand (and all attributed to FireFox). I'd have to be a millipede to count the number of issues with Windows in that same period. Of course, YMMV.
  • Ebuk, 1. You can legally install windows on a mac, with just buying a copy of windows. 2. you CANNOT legally install macOS on a windows device without pirating the OS, and then…..Hacking everything…and then, it does not work correctly. Yes it can be done. but without smooth usage and legal issues. So. NO you cannot really install MacOS on a Windows based PC. Also, I agree 100% about the issues with mac vs. Issues with windows. I am typing on my trustily old 2007 mac. It's faster, more stable and reliable than any new windows device I have owned.
  • Have you actually tried installing macOS on a Windows PC? My guess is not, since I actually have and I can tell you now not all computers support it. First of all you need an Intel processor, if you get a PC with an AMD processor good luck trying to get macOS to work, it'll be really, really difficult and if you do you'll probably have stability issues. Then you've gotta see if the rest of your hardware is supported or can be supported. You also generally need a computer running macOS already to actually make the installer image for macOS, which somewhat defeats the purpose unless you have a friend that owns a Mac or hackintosh. "A few hacks are required" is extremely wrong, many many more hacks are required unless you buy one of the "ideal" computers, that contain very similar hardware to a Mac, but if you choose a computer randomly, I'd say good luck getting macOS to run completely fine. As for Windows on a MacBook, it runs completely fine on all Intel Macs
  • If you actually compare a PC to a Mac then you have to compare a similarly spec machine in the same class. You can't compare a budget PC to a Mac. Not even remotely close on terms of price or performance. When they are stacked side by side, I completely agree with this article. Mac is just as good and in some cases better than their PC counterpart. From an enterprise view the Mac can sometimes have 3rd party software limitations. We have some custom software in our company that just will not run on a Mac. Which is a shame because I'd rather be on a Mac. Sent from the iMore App
  • One thing you can try with your third party software, is running it through WINE. You can get this through Homebrew http://brew.sh then when that's set up, in Terminal run the commands "brew update" then "brew install wine". After that, just navigate in the terminal to the directory containing the executable (your_program.exe) and run "wine your_program.exe". You can set up this final command to work as a desktop icon as if it were a native app
  • "IBM is saving anywhere from $273 - $543 per Mac compared to a PC, over a four-year lifespan" - ugh. not exactly a big savings but it could add up to a princely sum if you have something like 1000 units in the field. Then again this data is coming from a tugboat of a company that has failed to turn a profit in over four years, so who knows?
  • Failed to turn a profit? Source? A quick Google search showed a net profit of $3.8 billion in Q3 alone for IBM. Sent from the iMore App
  • holy cow, you are correct! my bad. ibm was losing money for so long i failed to look a thing their latest financials.
  • Hmmm.... when was the last time I called for help on a pc? Last century, I think.
  • Actually the PC is the easiest machine to maintain. All errors and defects have only one cure: just format the hard drive...
  • That's a solution to any machine, not just on PC's
  • except you don't have to do it on mac unless you mess something up yourself. Windows PCs mess stuff up for you.
  • A quick google search tells me there are plenty of issues with Macs. You can dismiss it as 'the person screwed it up' if you wish. Good luck with that.
  • Regardless of whether it's an issue with the user or with the operating system, the figures say it all:
    "3.5% of Mac users are calling the help desk vs. 25% of PC users"
  • Speaking from experience...I never have an issue with my mac's waking from sleep, compared to my windows 10 based 17" notebook that NEVER wakes...you have to hard reboot every time. that's only the tip of the "Awesomeness of windows 10" iceberg. Its terrible. IT should never have been released and it's a joke of an OS. MacOS is super stable compared to that abomination called windows 10.
  • Also from experience, including running experimental Insider builds... nothing but a good experience with W10. We can dance around and around and it comes down to what you like and what I like. If you love Macs, great... enjoy the experience.
  • I never call support for anything, as i manage all the support myself.... But I gotta say... managing Mac's are allot eailser.... 9 (Windows) to 1 (mac) my parents have to ask for my help and fix problems.. You can see the difference is far and between... Of course if u never install stuff and never muck up a machine, then it will last ages... My parents can't much her PC up since she's on a standard account, and i refuse to tell her admin password.
  • me too. literally. Maybe the 80s. **** i did tech support as a summer job. When i realized the crap advice i normally was having to give i pretty much gave up on it. Oh I do remember calling tech support in the late 90s when i bought an hp desktop. That was when i realized their tech support was just as crap as what i gave in my summer job: "let's turn the computer off and on" or "let's clear your cache" or "let's go into the bios." **** i know all that. Yeah that's when i decided the tech support wasn't good and i could do it myself and i built my own computers instead. If i have to go anywhere now asking for tech support i pretty much know i'm in for a futile time. Like i went to get support on my iPhone when the sync wasn't syncing the correct album art. The "genius'" had no clue how to solve the issue. There are still like 500 page threads on the apple site for the problem. I pretty much knew i wasn't going to get help but i tried.
  • What it comes down to is buy what you like. I like PC's, and have a nice one less than half a year old. I like Windows Phone (I'm probably one of three on the planet who do) but I also like my 7 plus. It's all good.
  • That's true if you know what you like. If a family member, who isn't computer-savvy and doesn't really know what they want, asks you what computer they should get you'd want to get them something which is going to "just work" for them. I don't want to sound like a fanboy although I do like Apple products, but as this article states:
    "3.5% of Mac users are calling the help desk vs. 25% of PC users" In this situation, you might consider getting said family member a Mac providing you have the funds to do so, knowing that they will not only not have to pester you for help as much, but will also enjoy the machine a lot more knowing they aren't going to run into as many problems
  • I'd suggest figuring out what they want to use it for and bring them to a retailer who offers both and letting them choose. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. I don't put any stock in this IBM report. It is hardly a controlled study, and there are a million variables that could impact the outcome either way.
  • Unless you're a gamer. Then, only a PC will do.
  • Depends on what the games are.
  • True. I think he's referring to gamers that consider their PC as their primary gaming device, although again that depends on what the games are. If you're running things like Skyrim, Call of Duty, Assassin's creed, you're going to want a PC preferably
  • I do agree with support costs of a PC...
  • about 3 months ago i bought a macbook air on a great discount. For the same specs a windows machine was still hundreds cheaper. I like my air a ton and run windows 7 on it which is one of the benefits but I'd have gotten more ram, hard drive and more ports had i got a windows machine at this price. However this article is about support costs and honestly i haven't called support for a computer in 30 years. End of 1990s i built my first computer which meant being your own tech support. I built the rest and when you can do support your self the support cost is zero. Never called for my laptops either.
  • My guess is the software running on the PCs is more obscure and specialized (in house programs, technical scientific programs, etc), which might lead to more support calls. Also probably have to have admin rights to do a lot of the stuff so people have to call. Macs are probably just running a browser, Office, Adobe, etc. Resale value on Macs is great, since they really don't upgrade them very often.
  • Many people using Macs run all different kinds of software than just a browser. Programming tools, graphic design programs, and even games. The Mac comes with a fair amount of useful apps pre-installed, and also included Apple's office suite now, and if you buy a Windows computer it'll often come with the manufacturers software, like HP's for example, which tends to not work very well but people will default to it because it's "there". Before Microsoft Edge, Windows computers had Internet Explorer as the default browser, and I'm sure you're well aware of the issues with Internet Explorer. Compare this to Safari, the default browser of macOS, which works perfectly fine as a normal internet browser There's a lot more as to why Windows computers get more support calls, even stuff in relation to how free the operating system allows you to be on its default settings. Apple recommends you to download apps from the App Store which are sandboxed and reviewed, as to decrease security and stability issues, and apps that are downloaded from other locations that do not come from a verified developer macOS will not allow you to install them at all, unless you go into system preferences and allow them, which stops people who aren't tech-savvy from doing something stupid
  • exactly on the resale. I am thinking about finally selling my 2007 macbook. If I sold a 2007 Windows based laptop with the same specs, I would get 50-75 bucks max. I have had offers of 250 for my mb with the extras I have in it like Maxed ram and big SSD.
  • I was a loyal Windows user all the way back to windows 286. Three years ago, fed up with then I switched my stag and myself to Mac. What an amazing difference. I wish I made the change earlier!!! Sent from the iMore App
  • I definitely agree on resale value. Everything else is based on experience. For instance, when I use to work heavily on Windows and Macs, my experience was hardware failed a lot on the Macs whether it was the RAM, HD, or the monitor while Windows always had issues with software whether it was a virus or malware. While recovering software was annoying and I had to do it often, it is definitely less expensive than recovering hardware. Of course I can not speak for everyone because it is my experience. Also take into account that there are still way more users using Windows than Macs.
  • As someone who's never used a Mac (so no comparison possible) I've never had to have any of my Windows PC's in for service, only called Microsoft service twice in about 20 years of using them. I'm technically inclined so will fiddle with it 'till I can fix it myself. (Once reloaded Windows 95 5 times to get it to work right Lol). The only expense has been upgrading Windows itself.
  • That's the benefit of being technically inclined. The majority of people calling in for support are unfortunately not technically inclined, and for these people macOS causes them much less issues compared to Windows
  • I'm IT support for a small grade school. We mainly use low end Dell PCs (~ $400 or less Vostros) and have had few hardware issues; I still have some that are 8 years old in daily use. I upgraded a few with ssd drives and RAM for less than $100 and they are about as fast as the newer PCs we have. Since Windows 7, there have been dramatically fewer calls for support and a lot less spyware/virus issues though still some. . Another school uses Macs and they are stable and require little support but the up front cost is still several times what we paid for our PCs. I have tried a Mac on our network but some software we use isn't compatible. I have a Mac laptop at home and like it well enough. But I'm typing this on a Win 7 gaming laptop i7 with an ssd drive that is typically faster then the Mac and runs my preferred encryption program so I use it 90% of the time. I also like to use a Chromebook I own with an IPS HD screen since most of the time I'm surfing. I can even remote log into the school with it to check on the servers and network when traveling. I also have a new Dell XPS13 i5 for travel, but except for its backlit keyboard and ability to run the Win encryption program I need, it isn't that much better than the Chromebook that was 1/4th the cost and just as nice ips screen. So now we are migrating to Chromebooks where ever possible at the school for students/staff. Linux based OS, so they are extremely stable with a fast boot up and shut down so we get the advantages of a ".nix" OS at a very low cost - students get a typically < $200 Chromebook, sometimes $150 if we catch sales. Google gives schools free student accounts and storage, as well as software the teachers use with then - Google Classroom. Students can also work together on projects or just do their assignments from home if they have internet access. Other than the occasional repair of a cracked LCD there is zero hardware support needed by me other than keeping the internet/wireless points active. I do need to manage the Google student accounts, but that is a once a year effort to add new students and minimal work. All in all, we like the Chromebooks. Businesses likely won't use them because they won't want to keep their corp. documents/secrets in Google's cloud. I do, but encrypt many before storing on the Google drive so that issue goes away for me. I think they are worth considering as well.
  • And IBM is biased too or what. If they are, they clearly have a reason. Sent from the iMore App
  • Rene, I agree with all you say except for the statement in the beginning. "For years people have looked at the sticker price of Macs, compared them to the sticker price of Windows PCs made with lesser components, and sneered about the "Apple Tax".
    It almost reads as a typo. Using the word "lesser" completely deflates your argument. No one is going to have issue with a more expensive Mac so long as it has more expensive components. The real issue is when PC shoppers compare component costs and see that Macs typically have the same resolution, MHz, RAM, storage, etc. or less and yet cost more than a comparable PC. Apple customers understand that this kind of spec shopping never offers the full value proposition as you and IBM have explained. Some PC customers will never understand this basic notion.
  • One thing to take into account as well is the materials and weight/size of the laptop/PC. I've looked at laptops that offer similar specs as well as having an aluminum case, being slim and having backlit-keys like the MacBooks, and they come to about the same price as Apple's offering. Part of the price is paying for the look and feel of the laptop, if you just care about high-specs and you don't mind a plastic case and a thicker/heavier laptop, then you can certainly get one cheaper
  • First article you've written in a while that I agree with wholeheartedly. I've been using Dells for work for the last 5 years, in each case with next day support. Each time, my laptop has had to have its motherboard and screen replaced several times. Macs are far more reliable and Consumer Reports agrees with that too. However, next week's Apple event is a way too late. MacBook Pro until then is using a 3 year old Intel processor, but priced comparably to new Skylake processors that PCs have been using since late last year. Sent from the iMore App
  • Macs last longer than Windows PCs. My mother has a 2011 MacBook Air that's still as speedy as the day she bought it (although she refuses to upgrade beyond Mavericks, so avoiding a Sierra-induced slowdown). However she has spent an inordinate amount of time at the Genius bar getting things fixed so I'm not convinced Macs require any less support than Windows PCs, just that the support is better. Posted via the iMore App
  • That's 1 single case though, not to mention if you're running an older OS (she's currently 3 versions behind) there's more possibility of running into issues. Of course there's also issues with upgrading to the latest OS as soon as it comes out, one of my friends at work waits 6 months after the OS release before updating, that way he gets the stability as well as being not too far behind, it's a good middleground
  • All of the issues were hardware related and occurred in the first couple of years. Since then it's been fine. Apple do seem to be getting sloppy with their MacOS releases. In the days when they were named after cats I rarely had any issues with glitches etc when downloading on day one of release. In the last few years its almost as if they're releasing a beta version of the OS which like you say you have to wait six months for a stable release.
  • I provide support for a mixed platform company and I do not see anything like this. I manage over 100 windows pcs and just 7 macs and looking at my support logs I spend 38% of my support time on the macs with the rest on the windows computers.
  • We had a similar issue where I used to work, but most of the calls regarding Macs was due to lack of familiarity with OSX (and was typically "how do you right click?"). As soon as folks got used to OSX the calls ceased.
  • unfortunately this is not the case for me, most of the calls are genuine issues that need to be addressed and not user error or inexperience. i see the trolls have down voted my post, i guess anyone not towing the line is attacked.
  • [Splutters, launches Excel and begins furiously entering numbers.]
  • I think about two years ago, Tim Cook discussed a partnership with IBM. I found it odd because I thought "Big Blue" was the enemy back in the day...
    I work in a 85k people company, all PCs. I did not notice any issues with software or drivers since all the software/updates/drivers are managed by the company's IT policy.
    To me this is just a commercial for Apple base on the partnership announced a couple of years ago.
  • I've known this all along, but no one (PC enthusiast) ever believed me. Now I have the data to back up my assertions!! Sent from the iMore App