Macs Toast PCs By 36% on Total Cost of Ownership


As reported by MacWorld UK and MacUser, Apple Australia last week pulled a report by the Gartner Group, which it was using to promote the Mac's price efficiency.

There was no error with the report; various sources report that Apple Australia decided to use the Gartner analysis later in their new ad campaign, aimed at 'Windows switchers'.

The report is based upon analysis of lab installations of 4,500 Macs and almost 5,500 Windows machines used at the University of Melbourne. The total costs were $AUD14.1 million ($US7.05 million) for Macs and $AUD18.9 million ($US9.5 million) for Windows. This works out at under $2,000 ($US1,000) for each Mac unit, and over $AUD2,500 ($US1,250) for each Windows machine.

The report measured number of support personnel, number of support hours and the satisfaction users had with their respective networks.

This is a limited survey, but in this case at least, the results are clear enough.

Analysis: Having actually worked in that institution for some years, I can give you some local color. Humanities and social sciences run Macs, while Windows networks predominate in commerce/marketing/management. One commerce lab ran Win NT 4 until fairly recently and then switched to 2000. Nevertheless, in my personal experience they were buggy and unreliable. You only had to ask accounting students doing Excel projects how much downtime they had.

Support, as in all large organizations, ranges from good to awful. Some Mac labs are very poorly supported - because they can be. In one Mac lab, every single copy of Excel was broken because a particular file was broken or missing. As Excel was relatively infrequently used in humanities, the troll in charge of that particular lab didn't bother fixing it and went back to his Armageddon and porn. At least the Macs gave him more hours to do that.

Support is also highly variable depending on the size and resources of various departments - meaning how many people they can hire. In my experience, the few Windows networks I encountered were not very reliable and needed a full-time admin, whereas Mac-based departments could live with a part timer. There's also a stupid regulation in place which means you have to buy new equipment. This mean that it took year for one postgraduate lab to get three computers (two PCs , one Mac). Another (Mac) department simply ignored this and gave their old computers to their postgraduate lab. So this lab had all the old LCIIs (some with 040 boards!), only one PowerPC and a LaserWriter II.

Nothing ever broke down. And IT weren't made aware of it. Since the only thing it was used for was word processing, browsing and email, this was just fine. Total cost of ownerhip? Zero. Okay, the occasional toner for the LaserWriter. Speaks for itself, doesn't it?