Most people who know me think I'm a bit of an Apple products junkie. I can't deny it. I'm a big fan of Apple products (Typing this blog on my 11.6 inch Macbook Air) and the way they package and reuse great ideas across devices. Being that I'm such a fan(boy) of the Apple ecosystem I'm regularly asked for advice from wood be purchasers when they want to pickup an Apple product. I'm writing this blog in order to provide that product purchase advice for my friends and family as well as for my readers who can't ask me verbally.
"Speed of Acquisition" vs "Help During Purchase" vs "Total Cost"
The decision making process for where to buy Apple products usually comes down to three major questions. How do you rate "Speed of Acquisition" vs "Help During Purchasing" vs "Total Cost?" (See diagram for the big picture on this issue). Once you know the answer to the above question based on your keen sense of self awareness you can then weight the various purchase options appropriately. For best results, Be Honest With Yourself!
NOTE: Many people think after sale help is somehow related to the purchase decision. IT IS NOT! The Apple store Genius bar will always help you no matter where you bought the device.
What's In The Cost?
When buying an Apple product there are 4 components to the cost of the device:
- The price tag of the device itself
- State sales tax
- Shipping and Handling
- What you can get thrown into the deal
Take into consideration all four points when looking at the price. You can often save over a hundred dollars in sales tax just by ordering from an out of state, online retailer! In addition, many of these online retailers ship for free. These online retailers usually have the best discounts aka "price tag" on devices as well. Check out the AppleInsider.com price guide. It will tell you where to get the best deal on any given Apple device and is kept very up to date. It's where I look and where you should too. Another thing to consider is that on some items MacMall and MacConnection are actually flexible and may throw in things like printers and bags if you call.
The Need For Speed?
Some people are impatient, some people need a computer right away, and others just like the experience of being first. These are all speed questions. In the speed world there are two categories of Apple products "Hot and Constrained" and "Generally Available."
Hot and Constrained
If we are talking about "Hot and Constrained" usually the fastest way to get a product is buying it from Apple. Either through their online store or going to an Apple Retail location. They stock themselves first. You may have to wait on lines but it's often your best and sometimes your only bet for acquiring new, hot, Apple devices.
For "general availability" devices "fastest" is broken down again into two categories. Fastest online (Generally Amazon) and fastest brick and mortar (Generally Apple's stores). Amazon is generally the best place to buy anything online as far as fulfillment (How fast they get it to you, amount in stock, ease of using store, return policies) and Apple products are no exception. Amazon's prices aren't the absolute bottom but they are pretty darn good.
When buying from a retail store, Apple's is second to none. They get you in and out fast, have all the information you need, it's easy to find what you want and they have ton's of stock of everything Apple. The only downside is the sales tax and no discounts to speak of.
Help During Purchasing
This one doesn't apply to me as when it comes to Apple products I tend to know what I want. It's a hobby of mine to monitor Apple's products and product direction. I use product and business learning from Apple for inspiration in my job building Performance and Scale software (Probably a good blog topic as well. "How I Apply My Apple Learnings To My Business"). For the rest of the world, aka "normal people," who spend precious free time doing things like traveling, dating, hanging out with friends, help might be required. For those people you should probably lean towards either the Retail Apple Stores and or the online Apple Product specialists (MacMall and MacConnection) where they know everything about the devices and can help you make good decisions. For those who are like me, stick to "Total Cost" and "Speed" in your decision making process.
When looking to buy an Apple device one must evaluate a number of options. You should evaluate those options against a keen sense of self awareness? Can you wait, are you cost conscious, do you need help? By answering those questions and comparing the results against the "Apple Product Purchasing Guide" diagram below, the AppleInsider price guide and the above criteria you should be able to make the best possible decision for you.
Please let me know if you have any feedback about this blog. How can it be more helpful? Where did I get it wrong?