Linked: “Where did Mac’s resale value go?”

Via Om:

So I wondered, how much can I get for my 8-month old Macbook Pro? I mean if it was not too much, I would be happy to upgrade to new model. Unfortunately, the cost is too much. Apple’s official trade-in says that I could get $1530, which is what you could get on eBay. That is a depreciation of $3000 or about $375-a-month. Ouch!

I’ve touched on this a lot over the last few years. I dove a bit more deeper in this 2016 post. Apple product resale has dropped off a cliff! The iPhone has remained mostly resilient if you’re the kind of person who buys a new iPhone top-end model every 12 months full price and unlocked, you can recover about 70% of its value after a year..sometimes more especially if it lived in a case, has the box and AppleCare along with unused earphones. The Apple Watch on the other hand, it’s hard to give these away, particularly the premium models. Aluminum will see a 50% drop YoY but Stainless steel models drop even more. People don’t see the value in the premium Apple Watch models so it actually drops to aluminum pricing after a year. 

Finally, there are Macs…these were usually a 25% drop after 12 months, then 15% year two and you’d expect a 50% drop after 3 years of ownership. That has changed and while I used to be able to justify buying the most expensive MacBook and iMac knowing I’d get most of that money back in resale, I don’t anymore. I still buy the top of the line model but if I sell after one year,  like Om, I am out just under half of what I spent even though I have no pets, no-smoking household, use cases and AppleCare and take care of my machines. Honestly, I’m better off abusing my Macs because I see no resale improvements to a gently used machine. 

Anyway, this is now the most economical upgrade cycle for people who are all-in on Apple products based on my experience which is similar to Om’s that I’ve been buying new Macs since 2001 and used to replace all of my hardware between 12-18 months since purchase. My eBay “all time sales” of $75,000 is entirely made up of Apple products even though I’ve moved away from eBay 2-3 years ago.

  • iPhone – Safe for annual upgrading assuming you own the phone outright and it’s in flawless condition (case, screen protector, AppleCare)
  • HomePod – 3 year life, expect 25% of original cost at sale
  • AppleTV – Give away to a friend or sell for 25% of cost
  • AppleWatch – 50% drop 12 months, keep for 3 years for best cost of ownership (I upgraded every year since gen 1 and have wasted a lot of money on these buying black stainless steel every generation)
  • iMac – Keep 3-5 years or sell 50% loss after 12-18 months
  • MacBook Pro – Keep 3-5 years or suffer 40% loss after 12 months
  • AirPods – Recycle them after 18 months. Batteries don’t hold a charge after that long anyway
  • iPad – Sell after 2 years OR hand it down to a friend or family member in need after 5 years. Year over yea upgrades you lose about 40% of your value

What’s crazy is this is all new numbers meaning pre-2016 like 2014 I could basically get 75-80% of my money back by selling every thing at month 12 just before the warranty ran out and not buy AppleCare. Now that these products are evolving and not seeing YoY huge improvements and Apple has basically designed it so most people should upgrade only every 3 years, it’s clear that resale sort of followed up. Oh and Apple is filling the channel with old products. They keep making products that were replaced so fill up the channels with lower priced products so like the iPad Air 2 was still sold for a long time after the 3 and pro came out. You can still buy iPhone 7, 8 and XR. These keep prices lower so you really are better off ignoring a 12 month upgrade cycle unless you love throwing money away. It’s hard because if you’re a geek like me, it’s cool to have the latest and greatest. The only way I can see that working is if you stay with the stock model. Meaning don’t configure to order your computers. Get the $1999 MacBook and the $1799 iMac and the $999 iPhone. It’s easier to sell the stock models. High end models just don’t hold their value.

This was a lazy post but Om’s did get me thinking and I wanted to piggy back on it.

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