Retina MacBook vs Apple I

A blog about business and economics.
June 14 2012 8:25 PM

Retina MacBook vs Apple I

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Richard Gaywood is upset that Apple's new Retina MacBook Pro is just about the most locked-down "pro" computer device ever. There's no way to upgrade the RAM, the hard drive, or anything else. As far as Apple's concerned, it's a big block and what you see is what you get. Felix Salmon sees it as "about as far as you can get from the Apple 1, which came as a kit."

All true.

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But it's also worth considering that the Apple 1 kit cost $666.66 in 1976, or in other words $2,692 in today's dollars. I'm guessing that if Apple tried to sell you a bunch of computer parts for that much today and didn't even assemble them for you, people would be a lot more upset. Back when computer components were more expensive, computer vendors had to do a lot to lower the price to consumers to get anyone to buy the thing. These days digital components are cheap, and every device maker is in a relentless war against commoditization and the total collapse of profits. Apple has done very very well at it, but the failures of its peer companies is a reminder of how fundamentally difficult it is.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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