10th December 2017
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March 28th, 2017 Cat: Bisnis Online

They say that Apple has a healthy 60% profit margin on the iPhone; that’s quite a tidy sum to be making on those expensive phones at a time when mobile phone makers are going out of business. But Apple does that because its Macintosh desktop computers and laptops sell on wafer thin margins, even when sold on their own website and stores. What chance do other big-box retailers like Best Buy or Wal-Mart have of making a packet when they sell Macs, if Apple itself is selling them at practically no profit? Well, they try the art of the upsell.

What exactly is upselling? Let’s say you just bought a car, and after the first thousand miles, you take it in for its first mandatory oil change. A clerk suggests that you opt for the premium rustproof paint protector finish while you’re at it, that’ll cost a mere $99, and protect your car’s finish against the salty air of your coastal city. Selling you $20 detailing for $99, more than covers their costs for a free car servicing. That’s up-selling, getting you in the door for something reasonable, and then piling unnecessary extras on top of it. That’s what Best Buy has been doing to make Macintosh desktop computers a little extra profitable. Best Buy’s Geek Squad are selling Mac optimization packages and overpriced extended warranties.

The very concept of an extended warranty is a bit of an anachronism; it dates to a time when devices and appliances were very expensive to buy, and were simple to repair. These days, electronics are mostly disposable goods; they sell cheaply, and buying new is often cheaper and more desirable than seeking repair service. But for people who grew up in an era when the electronics were expensive and enjoyed long service lives, it is hard to get used to the new idea of disposable electronics. These are the people that the extended warranty sellers aim for to make a quick $200. Best Buy now sells these practically useless contracts, and also sells optimization for $40. A computer, especially a computer as famed for ease of use as Macs are, do not need any optimization. The service includes hard drive checking, installation of antivirus software, and checking the hardware. Typically, this is useless work.

Macintosh desktop computers are not Windows PCs; they do not really need antivirus software, as virus attacks on a Mac are practically unheard of. In fact a Mac user with even a little experience at his computer would be actually offended by the very suggestion that antivirus software was needed. And a new computer does come checked for hardware faults, there seems to be no point in getting it done again at the store. It is just very unfortunate, but the major retailers have to scratch about for a few extra bucks and compromise on the integrity of their relationship with the customer for it. Not only do they end up shortchanging the customer, they make the product look bad too. Talk about short-sightedness.

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