2016 MacBook Pro – Pricing considerations


As mentioned in other articles, I was a bit taken by surprise at the price increase of the 2016 MacBook Pro.  With so many other changes on this new device, why would Apple increase the price by $200 for the 13-inch model and $400 for the 15-inch model?  Could it be that the Touch Bar and Touch ID really cost that much for each of these models? The reality is, I am not sure why Apple decided to increase costs.  However, I decided to take a look at the details of what you would get for that price.

To start out, when the Retina MacBook Pro 15-inch debuted in 2012, it had a i7, quad-core, 2.3 GHz processor, 8GB RAM, and 256 GB of SSD storage for $2199. When the MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina debuted in 2012, it had an i5 Dual Core 2.6 GHz processor, only 8GB of RAM, and 128 GB of SSD storage for $1699.  Those prices are $100 and $200 different from the prices we see on the new 2016 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar with faster processors, the same (13-inch) or more (15-inch – 16GB) memory.  In late 2013, Apple dropped prices by $400 for each model as it moved to mostly Retina displays.  This aligned to the pre-Retina costs for each model in 2011.

For this year’s 13-inch Touch Bar model, Apple has gone back to align more with the 2012 pricing models with a faster, newer processor (2.9 GHz dual-core), 8GB of RAM (though this memory is faster), and 256 GB of very fast SSD storage.  So, there is more storage and a faster processor, more USB, flexible ports, plus the Touch Bar with this 2016 version.  These additions are $100 more than the cost of the entry-level unit in 2013 and $500 over the cost of the entry-level 2015 models.  Given the price reduction after the initial Retina models, consumer expectations seemed to change in regards to price even though there seems to be a high-level entry model.

For this year’s 15-inch Touch Bar model, Apple is around $200 higher than that first Retina model in 2012.  With a faster, quad core processor (2.6 GHz), more memory (16 GB), the same, but faster SSD Storage (256GB), better discrete graphics, and more powerful USB ports.  The cost was only around $200 more than the 2012, entry-level model, but $400 more than 2015, entry-level model.  The 2012 model could be upgraded by the end-user with more RAM and a bigger hard drive.  The 2016 models are not user-upgradable.

So, while it seems that Apple has reverted to some of their older pricing models for these new models, if history holds true, it looks like we might see a price drop in another year or so.  If you don’t think the cost aligns with your budget, it might be best to pursue either the Apple Refurbished Store, or choose one of the older models that are still available and configurable in both the 13-inch and 15-inch models.  If you feel that the prices are just higher without enough improvement, consider the history of the new models and wait it out.  While the prices may not go down to exactly what they were, it is feasible they will go down.  And, just like previous updates, Apple has keep other models around as a consumer choice.  So, choose wisely and enjoy the technology.

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