Upgrade and resell every two years.
I’ve been asked a few times by folks about what Apple laptop or other device to get, how much ram, when to buy and the like. I’ve answered these questions over time with whatever seemed appropriate.
After engaging in a twitter conversation with @malaclypse, I thought, why not publish this? It relates to my when i start a company post, but it’s also how folks could operate individually as well.
There are many people more qualified to talk about such things than myself.
You will always own a computer.
With this agreement, all else seems to follow. I suppose there is another market assumption that is slowly becoming less true, but I think still holds, which is: Apple products have a high resale value. As Apple continues to make mountains of profit, our potential resale market gets smaller. But, I think we’re safe for a while.
The typical model of computer ownership by generally less technology friendly is “Buy it and hold it for as long as possible.” This emotional response makes perfect sense, you just spent this large chunk of money on a shiny new thing, it should last. The flaw in this approach is that these items have a built in shelf life of 20-30 months. Not that they are worthless after that, but they are certainly well into middle-age.
Let’s just say the computer you want is $2,500, and that as long as possible is 5 years. Over 10 years, you will have spent $5,000. Contrast this with buying brand new, every 2.5 years. Now you’ve spent $10,000 over the same ten years.
Recycle is superior. No, srsly. Wat?
Resale Value & Experience
The resale value of a 5 year old Apple machine is not likely to be more than 10% of the original purchase price. And frankly, I start to feel guilty charging even that much. The resale value of a 24-ish month old Apple machine however, is likely to be 50%-70% of the original purchase price. And a good low-cost entry into the Apple world for many folks. My first Apple product was a refurbished white plastic MacBook.
Buy & Hold will return you $500 over the ten years (if you can go through with the two sales), bringing the total cost from $5,000 down to $4,500. Recycle, however, will return you $6,000 (selling each original $2,500 machine at 60%, or $1,500), bringing the total cost from $10,000 down to $4,000.
The inversion in thinking is this: you’re not paying for the new machine, you’re paying for the depreciation of value of the machine you already own. And Apple products are like Volvos, they hold their value well.
Have you ever worked on a 5 year old MacBook Pro?
This is the other thing that’s not often recognized. What is the experience of working on a 5 year old machine like? Spoiler Alert: It sucks. Contrast that with buying a new machine every 2ish years. What a much better owner and usage experience that is. And it costs you the same, or a little less.
There’s a further benefit to Recycle. What about all your files? Software. Licenses. Cute hard drive icons. Srlsy, what about the icons? The thing is, dealing with this stuff every two years is a pain. But it’s a way bigger pain after five years. In fact, this idea that you’re really just renting the machine, causes you to look at al your data as separate from the machine you’re using to create it. This is a good thing.
You start to deal with data backups as a part of using a computer. Lucky for us the Internet is really good at this, and we tend to use it for redundancy for lots of stuff. All of Instagram isn’t on one hard drive somewhere. It’s on many. And as long as Amazon East stays up, we’re good. Srsly, everything runs on Amazon. Netflix, Flickr, it’s scary. OMG, so scurry.
Paying for computer depreciation frequently gets you a better computing experience and you have a more mature understanding of your relationship to the hardware (you don’t own it, you rent it).