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Firm says Macs cost only slightly more than PCs

After forming a comparison of Apple Computer's new iMac and MacBook Pro computers against several PCs from Dell and HP, analysts for PiperJaffray found that the average difference in price for comparable components on a desktop is only 13 percent lower for a Windows PC, while for notebooks the price difference is a mere 10 percent.

"We believe both consumers and investors tend to believe that purchasing a Mac will cost 20 percent to 30 percent more than a PC," analyst Gene Munster explained to clients in a research note issued early Tuesday morning.

The analyst also took a look at the cost of an iMac and MacBook Pro running both the Windows and Mac OS operating systems via Apple's Boot Camp software. He found that, on average, an iMac running Boot Camp with both operating systems is 22 percent more expensive than a comparable PC running only Windows. Meanwhile, PC notebooks cost, on average, 16 percent less than a dual operating system MacBook Pro.

However, Munster notes that the cost of running dual operating systems on Apple's new Macs may be negligible for most PC users.

"While many Mac buyers will go out and buy Windows Home Editionfor $199 [in order to run Windows on their Mac], those who have recently purchased a PC, or will be buying a PC in the near term, should be able to take advantage of the fact that PC manufacturers, such as Dell and HP, will provide customers with Windows re-install discs for free or for a $10 fee," he wrote. "We believe this will make the move to a Boot Camp-enabled Mac more feasible for many potential buyers."

"Desktop

(PC vs Mac desktop price comparison performed by PiperJaffray)


For users who don't need to drop the added $199 for a copy of Windows, the price premium required to purchase a Mac over a PC is less considerable, the analyst indicated.

While PiperJaffray sees Apple's domination in digital music as a critical piece to the its story, it does not believe the iPod is the only growth avenue for the company.

"Notebook

(PC vs Mac notebook price comparison performed by PiperJaffray)


"Indirectly, we expect the iPod to continue to be a foundation for growth in other parts of Apple's business, and we expect that by the end of CY06 more than 85m iPods will have shipped, providing Apple with a greater scope of awareness for various products," the firm said.

PiperJaffray maintains an Outperform rating on shares of Apple with a price target of $99.