Apple's superior marketing tactics have placed them at the top of the digital hardware market. Thusly, finding an official sale on a new Apple product is about as common as finding a sack of gold doubloons in the forest. Brand marketing has proven to be a very powerful business tactic, but few, if any, have achieved results quite as impactful as Apple.
Apple's "market skimming" business model has historically worked exceedingly well for them. Their wildly successful branding tactics have led to a level of social status associated with the brand that comes as an unwritten, unspoken package deal with the purchase of every current Apple product. Their stance is that selling their premium products even occasionally at significantly lower price points would artificially devalue them as a whole. Additionally, Apple is in control of their own retail channels. This direct influence doesn't allow for the typical third-party market warfare tactics that would eventually undermine their own price lines. If you are in the market for an Apple product, it is important that you know your own budget as well as the approximate price of the product your are seeking, because you are certainly not going to "make out like a bandit" with your purchase.
After looking at a number of major retailers that carry Apple products, I set out to find the best deal out there. Whether or not a "best deal" exists is subject to interpretation. Although there are plenty of differing offers, each one comes with its own drawbacks. It is up to you, the consumer, to discover which one works best for your own personal preferences and circumstances.
The following information will provide some tips on how to avoid drawing the short end of the economical stick when purchasing an Apple product:
If you are looking for the best value, don't buy from the Apple Store
If money is no object, then the Apple Store is the place for you. The fancy glass structures, modern architecture, garish decor and knowledgeable, overly-friendly staff are all in place to instill feelings of awe and wonderment in the consumer. The fanciful futuristic environment is designed to inspire enough esteem for Apple as a brand to make on-the-spot sales at full retail prices.
By all means, go to the Apple store! Try all the latest products, enjoy the lavish, decorative environment, and have your questions answered. But if you're looking for a bargain, leave that place with your wallet intact.
Get the most value with refurbished products
Buying refurbished products (also known as refurbs) is the only official way to get a substantial discount on Apple products. They are generally around 15% off, come with a one year warranty, and are guaranteed to appear brand new so none of that perceived social status will be lost with a refurb.
Make no mistake though, "refurbished" is semi-synonymous with "used", so if you are compulsive about having a factory-fresh new product, then refurbs aren't for you.
If brand new is a must, try Amazon
If brand new is a mandatory prerequisite, try browsing Amazon.com for your desired product. Amazon features a massive variety of third party vendors. If you search hard enough, there is a chance you will find a legitimate seller with Apple products for approximately 8% less than retail price (but no more than that). It is important to do your research and compare prices, though, because some "ambitious" sellers will actually charge more than the Apple Store.
One major issue with Amazon in regards to Apple is that they do not carry new Apple iphones and Apple TVs. This is likely due to interest conflicts with their own best-selling cash cows. So if you are in the market for one of those products you will have to look elsewhere.
Getting bargains on Apple laptops
It seems like Apple has gone out of their way to make it difficult to cross-compare their laptops from retailer to retailer. This is because their laptops don't actually display their model names... for reasons which we can only speculate. The only way to do real cross-comparison with Apple laptops is to meticulously check and compare the hardware specs, which is exactly what a smart shopper looking for a deal will do.
All of those (seemingly needlessly complex) letter/number combinations tend to blend together, so make it a point to write them down and compare/contrast them when they are next to one another on paper. Be sure to check the list multiple times before you commit to your purchase.
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a bargain deal on a new iphone. The iphone is Apple's flagship product, and as a business, letting those go at truncated prices is simply not in their best interest. The closest thing you will get to a bargain is to trade in your earlier iphone (for greatly diminished value) for credit towards the new iteration. This is about the farthest you can get from a summer blowout sale, but when you are determined to buy from the industry leader, you can only expect to be faced with the most despotic pricing models.
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