Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Charging More for Black Products

Stephen Hackett:

The black MacBook was sold alongside the more popular — and less expensive — white MacBook.


The two machines always shared the same specs when it came to the CPU, RAM and optical drive. However, the black MacBook always came with a larger hard drive for that $200.

However, the Magic Keyboard, Magic Mouse, and Magic Trackpad cost $20 extra for black, without any additional features for capacity.

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Ben Kennedy


@Ben. It has been well established since the mid-90's that black computers and peripherals are faster than computers of other colours. Apple is merely charging what the extra speed imparted by the computer being black is worth. CF http://www.dansdata.com/black.htm

I remember it differently than Hackett. The black MacBook was a higher end config, but you could configure the white model to be identical in specs for less money. Not $200 less but I think it was about $100. I remember helping a friend buy a MacBook and discouraging them from the black one because you could configure the white one to have the same specs for less.

@DS Now that you mention it, I think that’s right. I think you could BTO the white one from Apple for $100 less, but then Amazon or other third-party sellers would offer a slight discount or promotion for the stock black one, and so it ended up being about $50 more.

Still no RGB option, though. Incredible that Apple is just leaving that performance potential untapped.

DS is right. Black MacBooks always came with faster processors and bigger-capacity drives, and the White models could be configured to have equal specs. In euros, the models would typically have a 200-euro difference between them, e.g.:

- The Late 2007 White MacBook (2.0 GHz) would cost 1,049 euros
- The upgraded White MacBook would cost 1,249 euros
- The Black MacBook (2.2 GHz) would cost 1,449 euros

At the time, it was really hard to justify the 400-euro difference between a base White model and the Black model, especially because the difference in CPU clock was negligible in practical everyday use. Some say that the Black model was less susceptible to the infamous cracking of the top case in the palm rest area, but this feel highly anecdotal.

Dave Robeson

I remember this well from buying the white one in 2006. The white one came with a 60gb drive and the black one with 80gb for $200 more. Upgrading the white one to 80gb only cost $50, so the black option effectively cost $150.

Hackett has it correct, there were three tiers of MacBooks and the middle white one was generally exactly the same except for the hard drive size (yes, even the processor speed). Yes, you could upgrade the middle tier model to have the same size hard drive, but there was essentially no reason, the upgrade procedure for drive and RAM was super easy and the prices, as always, were much cheaper from third parties. I'm speaking for the North American market at least. EveryMac has the specs for every MacBook, and frankly remains the the preeminent site for such information. I've been using it for almost two decades.

Honestly, the base model was the sweetspot if you didn't need the absolutely fastest processor. 10% less processing power saved $400! For $150ish you could maximize the RAM (2GB for Core Duo, 3GB for Core 2 Duo, until later models allowed 6GB) and increase the hard drive space quite a bit (likely doubling the size for any given year).

One of my family members still uses a Penryn model Core 2 Duo (combo drive model, it was bought before it was spec bumped to the Super Drive with a lower price) as a daily driver. No case cracking on this one and has seen three different users in the last 14 years. No longer runs Mac OS of course given the dearth of support from Apple for that model. They left it stuck on 10.7 which might have been one of the worst versions of OS X ever released. But it runs Arch Linux quite well and for basic uses is still kicking.

Oh and yes, the black case premium was a nice Apple scam. They made how many colors of G3 iMacs? Any color differences with price premium for the iMacs were reflected in processor upgrades at the very least. I tried to talk my girlfriend of the time to not buy the black MacBook given the expense, but she refused to listen and ended up spending so much extra money. I tried my best though.

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