Discounts on Apple systems?

I follow prices and supplies for all leading PC hardware makers, including Apple. In the past year, I’ve noticed that Apple almost never discounts its prices (the exception of course being permanent price cuts when they upgrade a particular line and want to move out the older stock). Occasionally, I see a local dealer chop $100-200 off the price of an iMac, but that’s rare and usually on a line that has just been upgraded or is due for a refresh.

Am I missing something? If any Apple watchers are out there, do you have secret or not-so-secret sources of discounts? Or does the company just hew to its retail prices like other suppliers of luxury goods?

8 thoughts on “Discounts on Apple systems?

  1. I buy lots of Macs for clients and am constantly searching for the best buy (but not at Best Buy). Your perceptions about discounting—clearing out old inventory or dealer’s running a special—are pretty much the way I see the world.

    Amazon almost always shaves $5 off the list.

  2. I had to help a friend shop around for a laptop recently, and she was considering a Mac. The only discounts you can really find for a Mac is educational, refurbished, and bulk orders, as far as I know.

  3. When shopping for a Mac laptop for my wife we stopped at an Apple store. This was not one of the newer Apple stores that you find in the malls.

    The store wasn’t able to match or provide the $100 educational discount that she was able to get through the site.

    The salesman was extremely polite but unable to offer us any kind of discount or set of accessories to offset the online discount – even after calling the store manager at home.

    I got the sense that as much as they would like to have sold us a laptop they had very little room to play with pricing.

  4. People have already mentioned the 4 ways to get one at discount. Buy last version, refurbished, education discounts and bulk.

    At my educational institution there are lots of orders placed in bulk, hundreds of units. This can be really good if they overestimate the amount they might need. Generally they offer the units for personal purchase if they have them laying around. When they refreshed the MacBooks last time, they were offering the last version MacBooks for $590. 2GHz with 2GB of memory and superdrive. That is a great price. They also offered the 24″ iMacs for $1100 out the door. We generally can get about $50 off of standard educational pricing everyday.

    Educational institutions have assigned sales reps by district, so there is some room for the price to move. Leopard is only $69.

    If your a home user the best time to order is during the back to school special. Last two years you get a free iPod. If you plan it right you can get $100 rebate on a printer, if you buy the HP it will be free after rebate, and get the free iPod after rebate. You can either keep them as gifts or sell them to get back some of the money you spent on the laptop.

    Back to school special is generally from June to September.

  5. Even when I was working at a company that dealt with the education system (and we all know how much Apple loves schools), the discounts were still fairly dismal, maybe $10-20 on an ipod (at that time anyway, early 2000’s). I have a feeling it’s the “BMW perception”, you have a high end and classy product, you’re not going to have super-deal-discounts-sunday only! type deals. That’s my perception anyway.

  6. The reason why there are so few discounts available on Mac hardware is that Apple themselves are a retailer of their products (through the Apple Stores and online store), and so any company selling Apple products is in fact competing with Apple themselves. Apple therefore insists that its resellers do not offer heavy discounts.

    I think all of the previous commenters have mentioned the ways of getting discounts. The educational discounts have saved me a lot of money during my time as a student; unfortunately, I’m now in the big world of work and have to pay full price for everything.

  7. I spent a few years working in places with significant Mac populations. Generally speaking, the only way to get a significant discount, as Stephen noted above, is to buy a recently discontinued model. We used to save some money that way, when a user could live with not having the latest machine.

    The resale value on Macintoshes is also a lot higher. Where a five-year-old Compaq with a 2-ish GHz CPU sells for about $100, a Mac with a 1-ish GHz CPU will cost $400 or more. Even an ancient G3 tower (9 years old) will still sell for about $100, while I literally can’t give away my 9-year-old Micron Pentium II.

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