Thursday, August 27, 2020

Where Did Mac’s Resale Value Go?

Om Malik:

So I wondered, how much can I get for my 8-month old Macbook Pro? I mean if it was not too much, I would be happy to upgrade to new model. Unfortunately, the cost is too much. Apple’s official trade-in says that I could get $1530, which is what you could get on eBay. That is a depreciation of $3000 or about $375-a-month. Ouch! The upgrade is not as automatic as it used to be. Maybe it is the news of the pending launch of ARM-based machines that has depressed the prices. An alternative theory is that Apple and its machines are so commonplace and people don’t buy laptops as often that Mac machines have lost any resale value.

Via Adam Chandler:

Apple product resale has dropped off a cliff! The iPhone has remained mostly resilient if you’re the kind of person who buys a new iPhone top-end model every 12 months full price and unlocked, you can recover about 70% of its value after a year..sometimes more especially if it lived in a case, has the box and AppleCare along with unused earphones. The Apple Watch on the other hand, it’s hard to give these away, particularly the premium models. Aluminum will see a 50% drop YoY but Stainless steel models drop even more. People don’t see the value in the premium Apple Watch models so it actually drops to aluminum pricing after a year.

Finally, there are Macs…these were usually a 25% drop after 12 months, then 15% year two and you’d expect a 50% drop after 3 years of ownership. That has changed and while I used to be able to justify buying the most expensive MacBook and iMac knowing I’d get most of that money back in resale, I don’t anymore.

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Are we actually talking about a $4500 MacBook Pro? Who would spend that much on a laptop? The low price is more likely due to the fact that no one needs those specs or is in any way willing to pay for Apple’s markup on BTO models.

I’m gonna guess it’s because nobody wants a MacBook with a terrible keyboard, no MagSafe, and none of the I/O ports that everyone depends on. I’ll bet prices for a loaded 2015 MBP in good condition are more stable than the equivalent 2016 model.

As for Apple Watch, why would anyone buy it used? The previous gen models are always significantly inferior to the current ones. The first 3 versions had so many shortcomings that they are basically disposable by now.

This is along the lines of BenG’s thoughts, and he’s right: Who wants these overpriced but inferior TIM_APPLE overpriced but lowQual “innovations”...? Who is going to pay for second-hand accelerated “planned obsolescence” .. turns out nobody.

Meanwhile OtherWorld Computing (who I heartily recommend instead) seems to be doing brisk business with APPLE (not TIM_APPLE) kit circa 2014-15).

The question is not “Why is Apple kit losing its resale value?” The question really is, “Does TIM_APPLE kit have any resale value whatsoever, or is it just rent-seeking and by-design disposable?”

@BenG I still have my Watch3, and an iPhone8, and 2012 macs. NOTHING newer looks compelling to me. At all.

Yeah, I still have a 2014 MBP. This is the longest I've ever gone without an upgrade. I got this one used for $1,000 in 2017. So if I wanted to buy a 2-3 year old MBP right now, I'd be stuck with a crap keyboard, no SD slot, Touch Bar with no Esc key, no MagSafe, fewer USB ports (because USB-C hubs apparently still don't exist?), etc.

Actually, I'm seriously considering switching to Windows. I use very few Mac-only apps these days (I would miss EagleFiler, Affinity Designer, and Pixelmator). All other apps are cross platform AND usually better / more native on Windows. I also think that Windows has a brighter future than the Mac for the things that I need a computer for, because 1) it's so entrenched, it's not going anywhere and 2) there are tons of Windows-only apps but very few Mac-only apps these days and 3) Windows has Linux now and 4) Apple can't stop screwing around with Macs and OS X... I honestly don't know why most developers stick with it, since every single year Apple makes drastic changes to everything so it seems to me that devs are constantly playing catch-up. Apple arbitrarily adds new features to each release, making it incompatible with lots of previous software. Or they make it impossible to use a new iPhone with a Mac that's running a 2 year old version of OS X. It's just becoming so ridiculous.

I know Windows will have some growing pains for me, but honestly 95% of what I do on a computer is within apps, not the OS. So once I put the app full screen, will I care? I guess I'll find out. I'm speccing a tower based on an AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (faster than any Mac available right now, other than the $6,000 Mac Pro) with a 1TB Samsung EVO SSD, 32GB DDR4-3200 RAM, and a Radeon graphics card that can push two 4K displays at 60Hz Retina resolution. Including a 27" 4K monitor, keyboard, and mouse the grand total is $1,400. An iMac specced almost exactly the same would be $2,800. I just can't do it anymore. Plus if I ever want to add more storage, or more USB-C ports, or future USB4 connectivity, there are plenty of internal slots.

Why can't Apple give us something that's affordable and upgradable like they used to? Why is there no BTO tower with a couple of PCI slots at a $1,000-2,000 price point? Not everything needs to be over-designed and over-specced like the Mac Pro. Many of us just want a Mac that has some expansion and user-upgradeable parts. I used to love Apple products and spend so much money on them because the price was competitive and I knew it'd be reliable and last for years. That's no longer true. Now the choice is spend more money than ever (especially if I want more than the base RAM and SSD), and it doesn't include the ports I need, and I can never upgrade anything? No thanks.

Well, I can tell you that I need one. But then again I plan to use the machine for the next 5 years+ so that's why I specced out my 16" MBP with more ram, a better CPU and a larger SSD.

If I was to re-sell the machine after one year then as you said: I'd go for the base model.

But I don't know what the future brings so maybe this 2019 16" MBP is the new 2014 MBP and we're in for another stretch of "butterfly keyboard years".

>I would miss EagleFiler, Affinity Designer, and Pixelmator

Affinity Designer is on Windows, and I use Affinity Photo instead of Pixelmator. I still have a Mac that basically runs EagleFiler and my scanner, I sync the library with Dropbox, and then I just access the files stored in EagleFiler from Windows directly on the file system.

>I'm speccing a tower based on an AMD Ryzen 5

Nice build, I have almost exactly the same for my work computer, except I went with a 2070 Super.

Oh, three other things that helped make my switch to Windows easier, off the top of my head:

1. Install the new open-source PowerToys to get a Spotlight-like app launcher (or just use the Windows key instead):

2. The one thing I really missed was Quick Look, but this works perfectly well:

3. I use homebrew a lot on the Mac. On Windows, I use chocolatey as my package manager of choice:

Well, I ordered it. Arrives tomorrow. I now see that the Affinity stuff is also available on Windows, but they won't allow transferring the licenses, so I'd have to buy it all over again. I think that's a bit of a hostile policy these days so I probably won't buy it. I'm pretty sure that 1Password, AdGuard, and Proton VPN aren't going to tell me to go F myself just because I switched what OS I want to run it on.

Anyway, it should be an interesting weekend. I settled on the AMD 3600, ASUS B550M Plus mobo, and a RX5500XT 4GB video card as the foundation, paired with a LG 27" 4K Display. It will be quite the upgrade, to say the least.

Affinity's software is so cheap that I had no issue rebuying it. I figure even if I pay for a Mac license *and* for a Windows license, it's still cheaper than using, say, Photoshop for just half a year. And Affinity is also not a company that has paid updates every year, or that complains when you use the same license on a bunch of devices. I figure they're pretty customer-friendly overall, so I didn't mind paying separately for Windows licenses.

I've had every Apple Watch, and sold each previous model on eBay and never had much trouble getting about 2/3 of the original value. But I've never bought anything but the aluminum models; I don't see the point in spending more for stainless steel if I'm only going to keep them for a year. (I buy each one because I write about this stuff.)

The resale value of Pre 2015 MacBook Pro is Great. Only the Post 2016 aren't worth anything.

The keyboard alone is worth it.

Simona Cardenas

I echo Ed's comment above. Used prices for 2012-2015 vintage Macs haven't dropped meaningfully as far as I can tell.

Machines prior to 2012 aren't well-supported by recent Apple Ones without third-party hacks, so that's understandable. The drop on post-2015 machines is unusual though.

Aside from the notorious keyboard issues, I wonder how much of the 16" MacBook Pro resale issue is reluctance to run Catalina.

I also can't say I'm a fan of more recent Apple machines that are extremely difficult to repair or upgrade.

I've never owned a non-Apple computer in my life (since Apple ][ days!) but am currently shopping for a laptop than can run FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and linux... Apple just doesn't care about general purpose computing anymore. Sad.

I'm posting this from a PC running Windows 10 and I have to say I really like it! I haven't run Windows on a real PC since version 8, and never on a 4K monitor. It's fantastic. Graphics look wonderful in every app I've installed so far at 150% DPI. I connected this display to my Mac first so I'd have a point of reference, and I tried all of the Mac's display resolution options -- I actually much prefer the Windows settings because it gives finer grain control and you can set the overall GUI and the text sides separately, much better than is possible on the Mac. I can have a lot more stuff on the screen in Windows but at the same time, I'm not squinting to see the text.

I also have to say, my MBP never seemed sluggish but Windows 10 is snappy! I turned of animation effects and everything just happens instantly. So far I haven't found any differences between any of the apps I'm used to using. If anything, the Windows versions seem more polished / consistent. It almost feels weird that I'm liking it so much!

I expected to have lots of issues putting it together but it was dead easy. All the cables were keyed and super obvious. Took me 30 min or so to pub it together, but nearly half of that time was unboxing all the different parts! Then it booted into a BIOS, which surprised me that it's a GUI these days (I was expecting a blue or black screen with text) and it was point-and-click to select the Windows 10 Installer USB.

Thanks for the advice you guys. I feel stupid that I waited this long. It's nice to know I have a computer that will last me for years because I can just swap out components as new tech becomes available.

Now I gotta go try out my Xbox Game Pass (only $1 for the trial month) and have a little fun. I haven't played video games in 20 years.

I'm really happy to hear that things are working out well! Yeah, the first time I booted into a bios that had mouse support, it felt like I'd accidentally been beamed into some weird parallel universe where normal rules don't quite apply.

Once Xbox Game Pass is up and running, try out the new flight simulator.

As for Apple Watch, why would anyone buy it used? The previous gen models are always significantly inferior to the current ones.

The only Apple Watch I have is an S0. I bought it used from a colleague, who bought it used on eBay or something.

Its battery is rather weak at this point, and it’s so slow you wouldn’t want to use it for apps. But for activity/sleep tracking, it’s OK.

I would argue it suffers the same issue as the iPhone (first-gen) and 3G: hardware-wise, it doesn’t quite live up to the promise, because it’s underpowered, and software updates (of which this model received three major ones) make things worse. On top of that, the original software arguably didn’t quite know yet what people were going to use the Watch for (unlike with the iPhone).

But yeah, used Watch is… fine, if you’re OK with the reduced battery life.

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