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Why Every Developer’s Next PC Will be a Mac

June 18, 2008 24 comments

Every Developer\'s Next PC will be a MacIf you’re a developer, your next machine will be a Mac. Here’s why:

  1. iPhone Development can only be done on a Mac.

What, were you expecting a #2? No need! #1 is sufficient reason. “But what if I don’t plan to develop for the iPhone?” you ask. It’s called hedging your bets. The fact is you don’t know if you’ll want to develop for the iPhone in the future. The general tech community consensus is that mobile is the future. Having a mobile version of the apps you write (whether games or client/server database applications) is a smart move. In fact, your customers might start demanding mobile versions of your software soon and if they have iPhones they’ll start demanding them much sooner than later.

iPhone has a good chance of becoming the standard platform for Smart Phones. Even if it doesn’t become the standard, it will have a commanding share that cannot be ignored. The fact is, you can’t develop native iPhone apps on anything but a Mac. The world’s best Dell, HP or IBM won’t help – even if they miraculously become the better PC to buy.

Until now, lots of Windows users bought Macs because they were the best PC to run Windows. But what if another hardware vendor creates a better PC? The idea was that this group of Windows Mac users would switch back. But not anymore. Now, for a Windows developer, it would be smarter to pick up a Mac even if a better alternative for running Windows existed. Buying a Mac ensures that you can develop software on ANY platform: Windows, Linux, Unix, OS X and iPhone. Even if you don’t care about OS X, chances are you’ll care about iPhone users soon. iPhone seals the deal on buying a Mac. It’s good to be in Apple’s shoes right now.

Some of you are undoubtedly thinking “most people wouldn’t pay the $X premium for a Mac vs. a Dell machine.” Some will argue going to Macs will cost 20% or 30% more. Wouldn’t most organizations want to save 20 or 30% on their hardware costs?

This line of thinking couldn’t be more flawed. Consider the total cost of a developer during an average 2-year replacement-span of typical hardware:

  • Salary: $60,000 (low) x 2 years = $120,000
  • Benefits (Taxes, Bonus, Vacation, Insurance, etc.) at 20% (low) of salary: $24,000
  • Other Costs (Space, Desk, utilities, etc.) at 10% (low) of salary: $12,000
  • Typical Developer PC: $2,000

So the total cost of a relatively inexpensive developer for 2 years is at least $158,000 and these are extremely conservative numbers. I’m using a small salary to illustrate that even on the low-end of the salary spectrum, the $X premium of a Mac is meaningless.

So what is the extra cost of a Mac vs. a PC? Even if you have to pay a $500 premium for a Mac (Not True – See Update), we’re talking about 0.3% more than the 2-year cost of a developer.

So the question is, what organization would limit their ability to develop on quite possibly the world’s #1 mobile platform for a savings of 0.3%? The answer is “an organization that doesn’t think!”

Updated (6/20 4:55pm):

It turns out Dells now have a premium over Macs. Look at the comparison.

Categories: Team, Tools Tags: , , , , , ,
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