Should manufacturers focus more on premium, higher-end laptop computers?

20 December 2011

With Apple being at the top of the “premium” laptop space, if other manufacturers want to win over more customers, I do think one of the primary answers is to sell more premium products and make it so customers only have choices between good quality and premium laptop computers. But why though?

While many other manufacturers had (and still have) shorter financial expectations during the recession, Apple continued to have accelerated growth in both purchase-rates and revenues. It’s incredibly surprising how well Apple has done during the recession where many companies have closed down, many have struggled and many have lost chunks of revenues among many sectors of the economy. Well, let’s take Apple’s business model and just prove how hugely popular it is.

Apple only sells premium laptop and desktop computers (and this is not just in respect to the Mac lineup – it’s same universally with all of their products – their iOS devices included). So how can other manufacturer’s catch up? Well, a start would probably come with pricing and design and build quality of their computers.

More manufacturers need to start paying attention to the quality of their laptops; the design, the ease of use (i.e. the use of the keyboard). Of course when you take all of this into account it means you have a premium laptop computer and of course a premium price tag, but I do think a lot of customers will be willing to pay a premium for a high quality laptop. It’s proven in every sector and industry of the economy; consumers will pay for high quality, premium products, and with Apple’s brand perception among consumers very high, it’s a win-win situation for Apple. But other manufacturers can seriously pull themselves together and take on Apple with what they’re very good at.

The old pricing culture of computer manufacturers

For many, many years, manufacturers have got into this never-ending cycle of making their products incredibly good value for money for consumers in order to win sales, but this has a knock-on effect on the future and of course with consumer expectations on price. Dell and HP has said recently, albeit in business speak to their shareholders, that they are interested in higher-value laptop computers as first of all, it gives better revenues for the companies and second of all, it accounts to a large percentage of sales of their entire notebook lineup (specifically with Dell here). And of course they have decided to vest more interest in higher-value laptops (“premium laptops”) since it makes financial sense for the company; which is their primary interest, of course.

What’s the benefit of selling higher-value laptops?

There are many stringent benefits, such as customer loyalty. If a customer buys, say, a Sony laptop that has a great design, great build quality, great features and lasts for however long they want to use it, it will probably be the case where that customer will end up buying a Sony laptop next time they wish to upgrade or need to buy a new computer, and will likely recommend Sony to friends and family if it ever comes to it.

It also brings forward a better user experience. Who wants to use a laptop with a shabby, cramped or flat keyboard that is difficult to type on? If manufacturers focus on key areas like the keyboard and touchpad (and then some), it brings forward a better user experience for the customer – and then everyone wins.

To give manufacturers some credit, however

Due to competition from Apple and other computer manufacturers, the standard of laptop design (and hopefully quality as well) has exponentially increased since, say, 5 or 6 years ago. A laptop 5 or 6 years ago looks cheap compared to the laptop designs of today.

Of course, that said, not everyone cares about the design of their laptop or computer – all they’re interested in is it working. But I think, like in many other industries, customers will buy if the primary focus and availability of laptops shifts to higher-value, higher-end products. 

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