Home / Opinions / Forget the '£500 Brexit price hike' – Microsoft and Apple just don't care about you anymore

Forget the '£500 Brexit price hike' – Microsoft and Apple just don't care about you anymore


MacBook Pro 19

OPINION: The economy isn’t to blame for Microsoft and Apple’s disregard for good value, argues Computing Editor Michael Passingham as he weighs up the recent MacBook Pro and Surface Studio launches.

It’s been a good week for Apple and Microsoft. On Wednesday (October 26), Microsoft announced its impressive new Surface Studio all-in-one PC and on Thursday (October 27), Apple unveiled its long-awaited line-up of new MacBook Pros.

They’re all incredible pieces of hardware. Both companies nailed it, creating frankly epic launch videos that are about as close to computing porn as you can get without stripping an Asus ZenBo. Professionals and businesses are going to LOVE the Studio and new MacBook Pros, and I’m happy for them. A vibrant PC market is good for everybody.

The counterpoint is that all this jazzy new kit is too damn expensive. Everyone is upset that they won’t be able to get one for Christmas. And of course, Brexit has reared its ugly head again in this regard.

But forget about the economy just this once and focus on the uncomfortable truth, which is that Apple and Microsoft just don’t care about making their products accessible to the masses any more. You can’t blame Brexit for that.

It’s not a new argument. For years, people have accused Apple of offering poor value for money. I’d counter with, “If it’s worth paying for, it’s good value,” and for sooth, MacBook Pros are worth paying for. However, Apple now has nothing at the lower end of the market that’s worth paying for.

The Cupertino-based company refuses to compromise to bring costs down to a middle-tier price point, and that’s a massive shame. It used to sell an 11-inch MacBook Air for under £800, but instead of upgrading it to 2016 standards, Apple dropped it entirely.

You now can’t buy a decent MacBook (I don’t include the 13-inch MacBook Air here because it’s a pretty poor deal for an old product) for under £1,200. Microsoft is just as guilty, flatly refusing to refresh its base-model Surface line, leaving the Intel Atom-powered Surface 3 as the cheapest Microsoft-branded piece of computing hardware. ATOM. Hardly something to be proud of.

At its Creators Update event, Microsoft somehow swallowed up two hours of the afternoon telling us how democratising its latest developments are for 3D content and then, without a hint of irony, unveiled an even more expensive version of the already-expensive Surface Book and the aforementioned, up-to-£4,000 Surface Studio.

So much for democracy.

Microsoft has hardware partners that make cheaper, stunningly thin laptops, I get that. The Acer Swift 7 and Asus ZenBook 3 are two obvious examples that spring to mind.

But the best things that have happened to Windows in the last five years have been as a result of Microsoft leading by example. The Surface range was a mild stroke of genius that gave laptop makers a much needed kick up the arse, showing them what’s really possible with computing hardware. Microsoft shouldn’t forget who the majority of its users are: they’re not businesses and they’re not creatives.

They’re you and I.

Top-tier computing doesn’t have to – and shouldn’t be – reserved for the elite. As the two biggest evangelists for buying a new PC, Apple and Microsoft would do well to remember that.

Watch Now: Surface Studio first look

Do you agree with Mr Passingham? Let us know in the comments below.


October 28, 2016, 5:54 pm

As far as I'm aware, I don't pay for Apple products in my taxes, so I assume they are vulnerable to market forces. I'm writing this on a 2011 MacBook Retina, perfectly fine for a few years yet and 7 years use is more than acceptable. By then another 7 years will be worth it for the next product.


October 29, 2016, 5:54 am

Any MBA's out there care to hazard an educated guess on Apple's pricing strategy?


October 29, 2016, 7:54 am

Some estimates out there put Apple's manufacturing costs at about 50% of the final product. All the billions of free cash that they can't put into R&D, is put into securities instead. Apple are like a pharmaceutical company whose drugs never come off patent; they have product monopoly.


October 29, 2016, 8:59 am

Agree with ev erything you said.

Does anyone know when the surface studio will come to the UK?

Apple tend to announce and have a new product in the shops immediately. While Microsoft wait for the excitement to evaporate, then release the new product and woner why nobody is buying it!


October 29, 2016, 9:04 am

I was going to purchase an iPad Pro 12.9 inch but put it of because of its high price, also was going to purchase a new smart phone but I have a Sony Z2 it works fine and it's water resistant with a wireless charging cradle stands up like a small TV with the money saved about £1350 i'm going on holiday to Cornwall next year you can say I've change my priorities.


October 29, 2016, 11:55 am

I have a 2009 MacBook Pro (sadly can't officially run Sierra but can with a simple workaround) which I've had since new, a iPad mini retina Ive had since new in 2013and a IPhone 6s. All three are great pieces of kit, truth is everything I needed from the MacBooks pro when I bought it several years ago I can now do on my iPad or iPhone. I'm not a power user and I don't use my kit for work (a NHS issued 2007 Fujitsu Siemens touchscreen with a 45 second battery life) so I'm not so concerned about the high pricing as the Mac range seems to be aimed mostly at power users and creative professionals. For the everyday consumer, an iPad or even the iPhone is pretty much all we need.

The MacBook Pro is like the Mercedes S Class; clever, flashy and well beyond the everyday requirements of most people. However you hope that those features will make their way down at some point to the A class (iPad) which is what most people need.


October 29, 2016, 6:08 pm

You don't need a computer at home anymore! A PC has become a specialist product, with the masses adopting a tablet for day to day computing!

So it makes sense for Apple and Microsoft to produce higher-end computers for specialist tasks! Really surprised the editor missed this important shift in consumer behaviour!


October 29, 2016, 11:12 pm

They know the average consumer cannot afford the high end new MBKs but it does force people to look at the dwindling iPad market and lower or entry level iMac's which are more cost productive or efficient to manufacture. I think they well within 6 months reduce the price of the MBKs in favour of then pushing the next gen iPads. Ipads and iPhones is where they are pushing their key strategy.


October 29, 2016, 11:15 pm

The tech on the touch bar is nothing ground breaking just look at some musical sound modules/instruments they have been deploying this tech for years and extremely cheaply . Okay they are not MBKs but its nothing new or special in reality.


October 29, 2016, 11:51 pm

I'm not a mac daddy, have a surface pro 4. Which is great I might add. When I first heard about that touch bar thing on the mac I was like, meh. After seeing it on the video, it does actually look like it would be very useful. Especially if it's as customisable as they make out. Still never gonna buy one though.


October 29, 2016, 11:54 pm

But it is something new on a laptop. You can't really compare a music thing which you might plug into a computer to a computer itself.


October 30, 2016, 9:59 am

I am saying it's nothing new tech wise and Apple are ripping people off. Toshiba Portege yrs ago did something similar but that is by the by...I am an Apple user myself I have MBK Pros, Mac Pro (new shape) iPad Pro 12" phone etc. I actually run a full blown professional music and graphics studio with my Mac Pro's. But this is over rated for the price. I am very disappointed where Apple are going and I have been with Apple since 82.

Richard Martin

October 30, 2016, 12:21 pm

They're you and I? You meant to say you and me.

Really, anyone who learnt basic English shouldn't get their pronouns wrong in an online article.


October 30, 2016, 12:35 pm

I didn't even look at the price,I already knew it would be rediculous because it has a picture of an apple on it. I am not saying anything about value for money. Just that it looks good and useful. Now that the tech is behind the OS, in theory someone could make a 3rd party bar that sticks to your old mac book. But I'm sure apple would shut that shhh down.


October 30, 2016, 5:11 pm

For me looking at it from a professional perspective it doesn't do anything that I would need the bar to do. Sure it looks fancy etc but that is as far as it goes for me personally. I use the Wacom 24 & 27" for all graphic screen work which they are excellent. I cannot see how the bar will have any impact for creative users for say media graphic and music users. It will be useful for some people no doubt especially for those who like those emoji thingies.

I would imagine they might make an official keyboard to support the iMac and Mac Pro line with the touch bar on it well maybe? Apple for me are going backwards in many ways and yet there OS builds are top notch - just do not get them anymore. I am no fan of MSFT either but they are certainly build quality wise upping the game and throwing in some good hardware.

Perry de Havilland

October 30, 2016, 9:20 pm

Indeed, an evil donkey if ever I saw one! ;-)


October 31, 2016, 10:51 am

In which case neither of the company's new products particularly fit the bill, either. Specialists want speed and functionality and both have been compromised in these products.

Kulti Vator

October 31, 2016, 11:21 am

Maybe Apple think they're punishing Europe for the recent tax ruling - even the older Mac prices have taken a large upwards hike. The Mac hardware specs are unimpressive for the price and the overall Mac OS experience is being pushed beyond the reach of many creatives (web and graphic design salaries are being squeezed due to labour market being saturated with trendy young hipsters).

The Surface Studio at least features a stunning digital pen display that competes well with the large screen Wacom Cintiq devices... it's just the lack of expandability and the relatively weak GPU that let the side down a little.

Kulti Vator

October 31, 2016, 11:44 am

I think Apple have misjudged the price hike - the new launches are not particularly exciting and follow a long running trend of tepid, half-hearted product development under Tim Cook.

The monopoly you speak of is quite brittle today, as there are relatively few compelling reasons to own a high-priced Mac OS device over something arguably way more innovative from the Windows 10 camp. A Surface Pro 4, a Dell XPS 15 or one of the increasingly popular & powerful Gaming-centric laptops from MSI / ASUS / Alienware / Acer / etc - are brilliantly equipped for running Adobe 'Creative Cloud' (still very much the poster-child of the Mac OS world).

I did think I'd eventually buy a Mac Book Pro... one day... but Apple's direction in recent times has been a big turn off. They seem to be slacking in the face of real innovation from new and old adversaries alike.


October 31, 2016, 12:15 pm

The product monopoly I speak of is that Apple don't licence OSX to anyone else so there is no alternative to itself and that of course is its Achilles Heel, having integrated software/hardware.

Cloud based licensed apps are certainly a danger to OSX since the likes of Adobe removes the Hobson's choice of which desktop to commit spending huge amounts of cash for software every few years. It certainly makes me think twice over the next system I buy...

Kulti Vator

October 31, 2016, 12:42 pm

Agreed - all true.

MS have actually impressed me with the Surface Pro 4 - still somewhat overpriced, but it really shows how well integrated a small format-factor device can be with the Windows 10 platform - and yet work brilliantly well when plonked on a desk and paired with a 4K display. Perfect for design, video editing, document production and multi-window/multi-app research work.

3D performance isn't fantastic, but hopefully we'll start to see stronger GPUs in thin and light devices in the not too distant future (and without a hovercraft-class fan assembly to keep the thing cool).

As a former iPhone / iPad junky, I've lived quite happily without an Apple device since March... perhaps this is helping me view the Apple ecosystem without rose-tinted specs!


October 31, 2016, 1:38 pm

Perhaps some analysis of *why* might have enhanced this article, rather than effectively just restating the title.


October 31, 2016, 3:47 pm

You might need to check your own english here... 'you and I' is, in fact, the correct way to arrange that sentence....Really, anyone who learnt basic English shouldn't get their pronouns wrong in an online article.Particularly when they are about to criticise somelse's 'incorrect' use of language.... ps apologies for the gratuitous use of ''' marks

Rann Xeroxx

October 31, 2016, 6:36 pm

Kinda missing a point here in what is offered by each. Microsoft is not only a OEM, they are a OS selling so you can get Windows on literally hundreds of various form factors of all makes and models. With Mac OS, the Apple offerings are it, period, unless you build a hackitosh.


November 1, 2016, 8:49 pm

Apple have been riding the exclusivity thing for years.
Proprietary periphery's and an exclusive operating system is really all that separates them from the pack these days. Especially the cell phones.

The prices stay exorbitant because people are willing to pay them, that is really the only reason. There is no real value there. Whatever can be done on an Apple can be done on any Windows or Android kit just as good and sometimes better.
Certainly cheaper.

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