Apple: Same value, lower price?

differences between the old MacBook Pro and the new MacBook, based on Steve Jobs' announcement that it was the same functionality for $700 less

At today’s unveiling of the new macbook and macbook pro line, Steve Jobs mentioned that the new macbook was offering the same functionality as the old macbook pro for $700 less than before. To check the veracity of that statement, I pulled out 2 sets of data: first, thanks to Google cache, I was able to pull up the price list for the Apple MacBook Pro in the store prior to today’s announcement. It looked like this:

Macbook Pro - Apple Store page - October 13, 2008

Then, I picked up the same info from the Apple store offerings for the MacBook today:

Apple Store - The New 13-inch MacBook - October 14, 2008

So looking at this, the comparison in terms of a price drop, since we’re talking about features, would probably have to be around the 2.4 GHz version since it’s the only version that appears on both pages (the MacBook didn’t have any 2.0 GHz or 2.1 GHz version.)

However, here is the first problem with the statement. The 2.4Ghz MacBook version offered today is $1599 and the 2.4 Ghz MacBook Pro version offered yesterday was $1999. That’s only a $400 price drop.

Using the same advanced “check the Google cache” methodology, I pulled up the technical specification list for the MacBook Pro as it appeared on Apple’s site yesterday. It looked like this:

Apple Store - MacBook Specifications - October 13, 2008

I then pulled up the similar data from today’s specifications for the MacBook. The idea here is to get a fair assessment, based on Apple’s words yesterday and today, about whether one really gets the same value for less.

So let’s take a quick run down through the features of each devices, since Steve Jobs asked us to keep thinking of today’s MacBook offering as equivalent to yesterday’s MacBook Pro, based on the data provided by Apple itself:

MacBook Pro – Oct. 13, 2008 MacBook – October 14, 2008
Size and Weight
Height: 1 inch (2.59 cm)
Width: 14.1 inches (35.7 cm)
Depth: 9.6 inches (24.3 cm)
Weight: 5.4 pounds (2.45 kg)
Height: 0.95 inch (2.41 cm)
Width: 12.78 inches (32.5 cm)
Depth: 8.94 inches (22.7 cm)
Weight: 4.5 pounds (2.04 kg)
Connections and Expansion One FireWire 400 port at up to 400 Mbps
One FireWire 800 port at up to 800 Mbps

Two 480-Mbps USB 2.0 ports
ExpressCard/34 slot
Kensington cable lock slot
MagSafe power port
Two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
Mini DisplayPort
Kensington lock slot
Communications Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking (based on IEEE 802.11n draft specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible
Built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi wireless networking (based on IEEE 802.11n draft specification); IEEE 802.11a/b/g compatible
Built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)
Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45 connector)
Audio Built-in stereo speakers
Built-in omnidirectional microphone
Combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack)
Combined optical digital audio output/audio line out (minijack)
Built-in stereo speakers
Built-in omnidirectional microphone
Combined optical digital input/analog line in (minijack)
Combined optical digital output/analog line out (minijack)
Supports Apple Stereo Headset with microphone
Input Backlit keyboard with ambient light sensor for automatic adjustment of keyboard illumination and screen brightness
Solid-state trackpad with Multi-Touch gesture support for precise cursor control; supports two-finger scrolling, pinch, rotate, swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities
Built-in full-size illuminated keyboard with 78 (U.S.) or 79 (ISO) keys, including 12 function keys and 4 arrow keys (inverted arrangement)Multi-Touch trackpad for precise cursor control; supports two-finger scrolling, pinch, rotate, three-finger swipe, four-finger swipe, tap, double-tap, and drag capabilities
Display 15.4-inch (diagonal) antiglare widescreen TFT LED backlit display with support for millions of colors; optional glossy widescreen displaySupported resolutions: 1440 by 900 (native), 1280 by 800, 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio stretched; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio stretched 13.3-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen display with support for millions of colorsSupported resolutions: 1280 by 800 (native), 1152 by 720, 1024 by 640, and 800 by 500 pixels at 16:10 aspect ratio; 1024 by 768, 800 by 600, and 640 by 480 pixels at 4:3 aspect ratio; 720 by 480 pixels at 3:2 aspect ratio
Graphics and Video Support NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT graphics processor with dual-link DVI support; 256MB of GDDR3 memoryDual display and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colorsDVI output port
VGA output using included DVI to VGA adapter

Built-in iSight camera

NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memoryExtended desktop and video mirroring: Simultaneously supports full native resolution on the built-in display and up to 2560 by 1600 pixels on an external display, both at millions of colorsMini DisplayPortBuilt-in iSight camera
Processor and Memory 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache running 1:1 with processor speed2GB (two 1GB SO-DIMMs) of PC2-5300 (667MHz) DDR2 memory; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 4GB800MHz frontside bus 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache running 1:1 with processor speed2GB (two 1GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 4GB1066MHz frontside bus
Storage 200GB or 250GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard drive8x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Maximum write: 8x DVD-R, DVD+R; 4x DVD-R DL (double layer), DVD+R DL (double layer), DVD-RW, DVD+RW; 24x CD-R; 10x CD-RWMaximum read: 8x DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-ROM; 6x DVD-ROM (double layer DVD-9), DVD-R DL (double layer), DVD+R DL (double layer), DVD-RW, DVD+RW; 24x CD
250GB 5400-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive
8x slot-loading SuperDrive (DVD±R DL/DVD±RW/CD-RW)
Maximum write: 8x DVD-R, DVD+R; 4x DVD-R DL (double layer), DVD+R DL (double layer), DVD-RW, DVD+RW; 24x CD-R; 10x CD-RWMaximum read: 8x DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-ROM; 6x DVD-ROM (double layer DVD-9), DVD-R DL (double layer), DVD+R DL (double layer), DVD-RW, and DVD+RW; 24x CD
Battery and Power 60-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery85W MagSafe Power Adapter with cable management system
MagSafe power adapter port
45-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery60W MagSafe Power Adapter with cable management systemMagSafe power port

So by the look of it,it’s not an exact match. The screen of the old MacBook Pro is, of course, larger, which accounts for it being heavier and bigger. But other features seem to have disappeared: The 2 firewire ports are gone, as is the ExpressCard slot; So is the antiglare screen (with glossy available as an option instead of a default) and the DVI port. Oh, and the supported screen resolution goes from a top of 1440 by 900 to 1280 by 800.

On the plus side, the multi-touch pad is a glassy button-less one, a new video card is available, as is a larger hard drive (50 more Gb to use) and a speedier motherboard is available. Also, it appears that the battery is now a 45-watt-hour one instead of a 60-watt one so I suspect that there are some power enhancements in this new machine.

Are the two machines similar? No. However, each of them has pluses and minuses and they are only $400 apart which, considering some of the things that have been dropped and added, seems to point to a machine that, assuming depreciation, is probably in line, price-wise, with the earlier one.

About the Author

Tristan Louis

Writing and working on the internet since 1993, I've launched six companies, of which two went public and three were sold. This is my personal site and all opinions here are mine.

  • Joe C

    That’s not at all what Steve said. What he said was that there were three things (Metal Enclosure, Backlit LED display, Faster Graphics) that MacBook owners were asking for. To get THOSE THREE THINGS before would cost you $1999, but now, you could get THOSE THREE THINGS for $1299. Thus the $700 savings. He never said the new MacBook was exactly the old MacBook Pro. Only that the features people were complaining most about were now offered in the cheaper consumer line.

  • Curtis Carmack

    Also, the difference is $400, not $300. If you’re going to get into that much detail (which I actually found quite helpful), you’ll have to get the price difference right, too.

  • http://www.tnl.net/blog/ Tristan Louis

    ooops… Thanks Curtis… Correcting it…