Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In Mac vs PC Cost Comparison- Downtime Statistics Key

There's a long running debate, or argument depending on your point of view, concerning the cost of an Apple Computer vs that of a Windows PC. It really isn't much of a debate if the only measurement is how much does it cost to walk out of the store with an Apple vs. a PC. And its more of an apple to orange comparison, because it can be difficult to decide which Mac to compare to which PC. In order to be fair, the models were chosen based on similar hardware specifications.

The Contenders

The 13" MacBook Pro vs 14" HP EliteBook 8440 with the same or similar processor, memory and hard drive. The Mac comes in at $1199. The HP sells for $1053. So you save $150 by walking out the door with the HP. In case you are wondering, I picked the best selling laptop off the CDW website. If you still want to pick another data point, the comparable Dell Vostro 3400 is $718. And while I would wonder why PC users are selecting the HP over the Dell and paying a premium - for sake of this comparison, the out of the store difference between Mac vs PC is $500 (yep, rounded up).

Now check this quote out concerning how the sagging economy is motivating midsize companies to find ways to save money:

"In a recent report by IDC, an impressive number of midsize companies migrating to Windows 7 say they realized a full return on their investment in just seven months. The migration also helped significantly reduce the time help desks spend dealing with malware, downtime and reboots by replacing Windows XP and Windows Vista."

Read it again. What the report finds is that the support requirements of  Windows Vista and XP are so great that the cost of migration to Windows 7 can be justified in reduced support cost alone. By the way the report was sponsored by Microsoft.

So how much was the support cost reduced?

End users spent considerably less time dealing with malware, downtime, and reboots when using Windows 7 compared with previous Windows products. In fact, when 14 categories of common end-user activities related to keeping Windows PCs operational are considered, the savings result in 43 additional hours of productivity per year per user when using Windows 7. That amounts to in excess of one full work week per year of productive time.

So if you're doing a good job of following along, what we have learned is that if you switch from Windows Vista/XP to Windows 7 you will pick up an extra 43 hours of productive time. Now at a labor rate of $25/hour you just saved over $1000/year. And over the 3 year life of the PC, you saved $3000. All because Windows 7 is better than Vista or XP.

Okay you Mac users out there, I know what you're saying "we knew Vista was a piece of crap and no doubt the geniuses at Microsoft improved Windows 7, but that only means its a little less crappy.  How does this relate to the Mac vs. PC cost equation?".

The data shows Windows 7 to be a 42% improvement over Vista/XP when measured by downtime. According to the report, a Windows 7 PC will have 57.6 hours of downtime a year. At $25/hour that's $1440/year. If the Mac is only twice as good as the PC (no snickering out there) it saves you $720/year, which multiplied by 3 years for the service life of the Mac, results in a total savings of $2160. Since we paid $500 more for the Mac, the 3 year net savings of using a Mac vs PC is $1660

Using data to support migrating from one Windows version to another, it is easily shown that the Mac is clearly the better financial decision, based just on comparative downtime!

The only thing left to support is whether the Mac has half the downtime as a PC. While I wish that I could point you to a study on Mac downtime, I couldn't find one. Google "mac downtime statistics" - zero hits. Must be why there is that long line at the Apple store. If anyone finds Apple downtime data, please pass it along.

So go tell your boss you want a Mac because its cheaper - of course that means you'll end up working one more week a year!


Kevin Cullis said...


Great information about costs of both the PC and Mac. I'll post a link to my blog about Macs and entrepreneurs.


Mitch Rushing said...

Thanks Kevin.