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The Apple (Used) Premium? (priceonomics.com)
49 points by omarish on July 25, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 26 comments

I'm a huge fan of Apple's refurb store. But it can be a cat-and-mouse game because as stuff comes in and out of stock, the website will change minute by minute.

There is a site called refurb-tracker.com that puts out an RSS feed based on changes to the store inventory. I used some tool to turn that into a twitter feed @MacRefurb.

It's been running so long I don't even remember how to log in and change it. And I forget what tool I used to make the RSS->twitter conversion. But I still have 185 followers, 4 years later...

And for this reason I wrote myself a script to wget the Macbook pro 15" refurb page, and parse it for: Price, manufacture year, and matte screen option. If it matched my criteria 3/3, then it would email me.

One morning I got that email and I no longer had an excuse :D

And for this reason I wrote myself a script to wget the Macbook pro 15" refurb page, and parse it for: Price, manufacture year, and matte screen option. If it matched my criteria 3/3, then it would email me.

I like what you did there, great stuff! I do wonder how many personal bots are out there, scraping sites for individuals' own gain like this.

I remember a good few years ago, getting frustrated at having to wait six weeks for a driving test. I wrote a little script that ran every half hour, logged into the DVLA's site (in the UK), entered my details, and looked for recent cancellations. If it found one, it sent me the details, and I'd madly scrabble together to try and book the slot. After I failed my first test, it was even more useful :)

I used to use Yahoo! Pipes to scrape every major craigslist location in California when I was on the hunt for a certain model of car or motorcycle. I wasn't the only one, either, because eventually the RSS service started getting shut down every month when some arbitrary RSS bandwidth number had been exceeded.

It was beautiful, transitioning from sifting through CL by hand, to having carefully filtered ads delivered to my inbox within an hour of being posted.

I use IFTTT.com to do the same thing on CL.

I know I do it all of the time. Often I connect it to a twitter bot as well so others can use the information. Using python with tweepy and twill makes it very easy. Once I set up a script I just run it in cron every 15-30 min and forget about it.

I've done this too, scraping a doctor's site with flu shot information back when we had a flu scare a few years ago - my wife was worried about missing the notification for our daughter, so I whipped up something to ping me when more shots became available.

I've used Yahoo! Pipes and Boxcar.io iPhone app similarly to parse RSS feeds to find a fridge-freezer on Freecycle and a good apartment.

I was delighted when Apple announced the Retina MBP; I suspected it would mean year-old laptops might hit eBay at silly prices as some folks scrambled to upgrade.

I was right, and have picked up two this month (one on behalf of a friend):

- A MacBook Pro 15" 2.3 i7 Quad Core unibody, antiglare. (Sold for £908, cost in March 2011 £2,169. 58% saving.)

- A MacBook Pro 15" 2.0 i7 Quad Core unibody, 8GB RAM, antiglare. (Sold for £950, cost in 2011 approx £1,500. 37% saving.)

Both of these represent considerable savings over the 17% median for a used model stated in the article.

Both laptops can be user-upgraded with a 512 SSD (approx £300 from Crucial) and up to 16GB of RAM (approx £100), even though Apple's advertised maximum is 8GB of RAM for 2011 MacBook Pros. Their Geekbench scores are pretty close to the latest i7 chips in the Retina MacBook Pros.

Although they're out of warranty, the savings and the relative reliability of nearly new Apple hardware makes these excellent value for money, in my view. And they're not atypical of finishing prices for this sort of kit in Britain at present; average selling prices are only £100-£150 higher. I got a good price by finding auctions with average photos or formatting that were listed with awkward finishing times (typical commuter home time/very early in the morning).

Is there a premium for used Apple kit? Well, sure -- even the old ones are desirable. But that doesn't mean you have to pay it.

I think you just got lucky :/


I noticed these guys seem to scrape Craigslist for data. I wonder what Craigslist thinks of that. Will they be the next helpful start-up killed by Craig?

They're not using the data as a means to compete with Craigslist, so I doubt CL will care

I usually buy refurbished to save money, and I'm always surprised how negatively people react when they find that out. I'm under the impression manufacturers very thoroughly test refurbished products (after all, they know part of it was broken!); it makes me wonder if on average refurbished might be in even better condition than new.

FWIW: My family's last 7 Macs have all been refurbs. The $ saved go to purchase additional (non-apple) RAM.

The last Mac I had that developed hardware problem (out-of-warranty) was not one of those refurbs.

Some do, some don't.

I picked up a refurbished iPad 2 a month ago and it works great -- except the home button is shoddy. I didn't really pick up on it after two or three days of use.

for me refurbished means it was tested for real. always buying refurbished laptops from dell outlet and never had problems outside of minor cosmetic issues :)

I'm kinda surprised that this article doesn't consider extra costs, like taxes and (if in CA), recycling fee. When you're buying things that cost around $1200 (macbook air), you'll "save" around $200 by buying on craigslist.

Do you get the craigslist seller to throw in a year of AppleCare? Because that comes free with the refurb. It's $240 for the Macbook Air.

It's 240 for 3 years with the MBA. If you save almost that amount on getting the cheaper craigslist version, why not spend what you've saved to get a MBA that you know will be covered for 2+ years? (assuming you got one that's under 1 year old)

Oops, my mistake. $240 extends the initial first year and makes it 3 years.

This information inexplicably rarely comes up when people complain about the price of Apple products. I usually get 80 cents on the dollar for Apple notebooks but can't even give away a Windows machine. This makes it a no-brainer to buy Apple.

I bought an iPhone 4S from eBay.

Back here, you can exchange your iPhone with a minor excuse (3G intermittently working etc.) so the owner of the used phone exchanged it from the vendor for a brand new one at no cost. Therefore, I got a brand new iPhone 4S at the price of an iPhone4 with an Apple Care Protection plan. The only "used" part of the phone are the 19 pin connector, the earphones and the adaptor which personally doesn't quite keep me awake at nights.

You pay a premium over refurbished to buy a used Air? I'm I reading the last graph right?

[1] The percentage savings is in negative just for MBA 11" but also for the MBP 15"

[2] It means that there's a -8% for the MBA 11" and -1% for the MBP 15" savings if you prefer the used one. So you should choose the the refurbished over a used ones for these models if price is your ONLY parameter.

By the time these models are buyable as refurbs they are also on amazon for a similar price.

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