11" MBA poor resale value

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by dmelgar, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. dmelgar macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
    I've owned many Apple products over the years and have generally done well selling older products to trade up to newer ones. I traded in my 2009 13" MBP for a 2010 11" MBA. I was able to sell my MBP for only $200 less than I paid for it. I was ecstatic.

    Unfortunately, I'm not having the same luck as I consider trading the 2010 MBA for a 2012 MBA.

    The 11" MBA has a huge price range depending on options. Its generally not a lower price machine than a bigger machine. To some extent you're paying extra for the smaller size and portability.

    But the resale market doesn't seem to appreciate that.

    The base 2010 model with 2GB RAM and 64GB SSD sold for $999. It always seems an unusable limited machine to me. On the other hand, the ultimate configuration with 4GB RAM, 128SSD and faster CPU is a very powerful useful workhorse in a tiny package. The ultimate sold for $1400, 40% more than the base.

    Here we are less than 2 years later, and the 2010 ultimate is only getting $600-650 on eBay. Thats a huge almost 60% discount over its price less than 2 years ago.

    Yet the base model is selling for only $100 less. The $400 in upgrades are only worth 25% of their original retail cost.

    Even more amazing, I look on eBay and find 2009 13" Macbook Pros like the one I trade in, selling for almost the same as I sold mine for 2 years ago. Some are fetching $700.

    So a much cheaper, old machine is getting as high a price as a newer, sleek, fully upgrade machine.

    What gives?

    Are 11" Macbook Airs exceptionally bad investments? I get the impression that maybe people think of them as toys, suitable only for college students or light web browsing. Nice netbooks. But an inferior 13" Macbook Pro somehow sounds like more of a real machine.

    If so, it may provide a reason to wait to buy a new 13" macbook pro retina over a 11" Macbook Air.

    Any other comments or personal experiences? Am I interpretting the completed sales on eBay incorrectly?
  2. dcorban macrumors 6502a


    Oct 29, 2007
    I suspect that the overall demand for the 11" is significantly less than the 13".

    I sold my 2008 13" regular MacBook for $600 just two weeks ago.
  3. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Any computer is a bad investment. A computer is a depreciating item. That means they will be worth less in the future than they are worth now. You can't buy high and sell low and expect to make it up in volume.

    If you want a tool, by a Mac. If you want an investment, buy Apple stock.
  4. Reha macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2012
    You buy a computer that serves your needs, not for it's resale value.
    The 11" is geared towards a smaller target group that trades screen real estate for mobility. That particular group may not be interested in a 2nd hand laptop. And its not unusual that products for the wider masses do better on the online 2nd hand market.

    I bought an ultimate 11" just now for a price that is close to the rMBP, and already factored in that I will get much less when I sell it in a couple of years from now.

    What I'm saying is, if you need an ultraportable laptop then buy the 11" and be happy for what you get. Better than buying a 13" and be bitching and moaning for 2 years because of its size.
  5. awer25 macrumors 65816


    Apr 30, 2011
    You have to compare them to the new machines too, not just relative to their 2010 counterparts. With the exception of storage space, a 2012 MBA (base model) is much better than the 2010 ultimate version, and is $999. How much would you pay for a 2010 model considering this? (apparently $600-650 is the answer)
  6. riveting macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2009
    There are two reason, 1st, the refurbished 2011 11 air is only 800, which is signifcantly faster 2, macbook pro is more upgradable, people are more willing to buy the pro used as they can add ram and storage. The 11 is not the worst resale, if you look at first generation macbook air, the high end model is almost 3000, and two years later, it is only worth 600
  7. dmelgar, Jun 30, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2012

    dmelgar thread starter macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
    More analysis of eBay sales.

    Over the last two weeks:

    • 2010 11" MBA 2GB/64GB (base). Average sale price is 61% of original price of $999. 58 sold
    • 2010 11" MBA 4GB/128GB (ultimate) average sale price is 50% of original price of $1399. 16 sold
    • 2010 13" MBA 2GB/128GB (base). I believe it listed for $1299. Average sale price is now 56% of original price, higher than the resale price of the 11" ultimate which originally cost $300 more. 40 sold.
    • 2010 13" MBA 4GB/256GB (ultimate). Average sale price is 53% of original price of $1599 (I think) 30 sold.
  8. Kungshi macrumors member

    May 11, 2011
    Exactly! The technological advancements for the airs have significantly outweighed that of the MBP when considering % improvements year to year. Therefore older models must depreciate in value at a greater rate to balance supply/demand.

    Wasn't the CPU increase to Sandy Bridge 50% or so. And it was the same price point at refresh. It really makes me think that the better deal money wise are the year to year refreshes, not the built to order upgrades. This is probably why the OP saw such a steep % decline in price for the ultimate over the base model.
  9. cfedu macrumors 65816


    Mar 8, 2009
    This is a reason to only buy what you need. When the new airs came out people where saying the base models would have bad resale value, and for this reason the upgraded. Paying 400$ more for a 100$ increase in resale value is just silly.

    With the older pros you could always upgrade the machine for cheap a few years later before you sold it. For the cheap and frugal buying an air does hurt.
  10. NMF macrumors 6502a


    Oct 27, 2011
    This. OP, the fact is the 2010 "ultimate" MBA is pretty crappy compared to the 2012 base. The 2012 base is a really fantastic value considering the hardware.

    Also, you sold your old MBP only one generation after it had been released. Your current MBA is now 2 generations behind, and 2 significant ones at the. The advances in battery life, graphical performance, SSD performance, Thunderbolt... yeah, $650 is actually sounding like a pretty good deal on your end.

    There's more to used computer prices than merely the original sticker price. You have to consider the actual VALUE you are offering, as compared to what Apple is currently offering new. MBA's have come a long way in just 2 generations. The same thing will happen when people are trying to sell their rMBP's in two years, just wait.
  11. Moshe1010 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2010
    A computer is not a house or a land. It doesn't need to go down by 5% after 10 years (or go up). It's like a car - the moment you left the delaership you bought the car from, the car worth 10% less. a Year after that, another 10%, and another 10% a year after that. Do you know why? because you've used it and different, better models came along the way. Anyway, the law of supply and demand is also playing a role here. Your previous MBA was just more common than the 11" you have right now.
  12. kodeman53 macrumors 65816

    May 4, 2012
    Who determines what they will pay for a used item by researching it's original sale price? No one. They research the cost of the equivalent new device or the same device in the refurb store.
  13. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    I have consistently said that base models keep a bigger percentage of their value. All computers lose value quickly because the technology changes. However, the "ultimate" models will always lose more of their value because of the additional profit margin that is built into the upgrades. Apple's margin is lowest on the base model. It is the highest on the high-end models.

    2 or 3 years later, the secondary market doesn't care. The 2010 MacBook Air, no matter whether it is the base or the "Ultimate" has a processor from 3 generations ago. For $1099, you can today buy a brand new model with 4GB RAM and a 128GB SSD that runs circles around the 2010, and also has USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt. Of course the "Ultimate" is going to lose value quickly.

    It's the same situation today. Buy what you need. If you are concerned about resale because you think you are going to sell it in a year or two when the Haswell and Broadwell models are out (potentially with "Retina Displays"), then get the i5 with 4GB with 64GB or 128GB SSD. Those models will retain their value the best.
  14. dmelgar thread starter macrumors 68000

    Apr 29, 2005
    I've added te prices from the Apple refurb store. I've put the average eBay resale prices in red and prices I found in blue.

    Originally Posted by dmelgar
    • 2010 11" MBA 2GB/64GB (base). Average sale price is 61% of original price of $999. 58 sold $606 none at refurb store
    • 2010 11" MBA 4GB/128GB (ultimate) average sale price is 50% of original price of $1399. 16 sold $711 $789
    • 2010 13" MBA 2GB/128GB (base). I believe it listed for $1299. Average sale price is now 56% of original price, higher than the resale price of the 11" ultimate which originally cost $300 more. 40 sold. $729 $799
    • 2010 13" MBA 4GB/256GB (ultimate). Average sale price is 53% of original price of $1599 (I think) 30 sold. $851 $1129
  15. Beanoir macrumors 6502a


    Dec 9, 2010
    51 degrees North
    Its odd that people think that a computer should hold it's value, I know it's true that Apple products do fair a lot better than most other products but I still wouldn't expect to get much of money back.

    Having said that I just sold my 2010 11" 2GB/64GB 1.4 C2D MBA for £505 on ebay and bought a refurbished 2011 11" 4GB/128GB 1.6 i5 for £570, so not all is lost.
  16. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    In my experience, you get the most out of a resale if you do it within one year from release before the next model comes out, and if you have a base model without upgrades.

    The first point about selling within one year doesn't need much explanation. In the past, I have gotten around 80% back for my devices and just applied that towards the purchase of a new model. Think of it as renting your device for the price of a coffee or two each month.

    The second point isn't immediately obvious, but it makes sense if you think about it. Late adopters (people buying your old computer) don't care about this stuff, and a lot of times they are pushing their budgets just to get into the entry-level models. They don't care if you have 4 or 8 GB.

    Having it still under warranty makes the sale go easier, but may not necessarily get you a better price. And, once you go over that one year mark, you pretty much get nothing out of Applecare if you bought it.

    Of course, you have to get what you need, but I'd consider upgrading each year and sticking to base models whenever possible.
  17. riveting macrumors 6502

    Mar 11, 2009
    is the one for refurbished include tax? if so, I really don't understand why the buyer save a few bucks to get a used one and less than half the CPU performance, half ram and half SSD over refurbished.

  18. Dangerous Theory macrumors 68000

    Jul 28, 2011
    As well as profit margins mentioned above, you could also argue that people looking for second hand items are often looking to save as much money as possible anyway, and therefore may for that reason be drawn to the base models.
  19. awer25 macrumors 65816


    Apr 30, 2011
    There are a lot of people who really want an Apple computer, but know nothing about them. They have no idea what models are available or what specs to get - they just want "that super thin one".

    Case in point: last year, I sold a 7 year old Powerbook on Craigslist for $550.
  20. Dangerous Theory macrumors 68000

    Jul 28, 2011
    I wouldn't be surprised if that was more to do with someone wanting to collect old Apple products. Apple computers were orders of magnitude less popular back then, so having a semi-classic product is bound to have more than average worth.
  21. astrorider macrumors 6502

    Sep 25, 2008
    For base models, 60% of their original value 2 years after release I think is a great number for a computer, and in line with what I've experienced over the years. Also, as your analysis shows upgraded models always fare worse so if you want to sell every couple years the base models are a better bet.

    Even compared to Apple refurb prices, these machines are selling with wear and tear from 2 years use, NO warranty, and the risk of the unknown that comes with buying used. In this respect, 60% is pretty good. Models that don't change significantly may do a little better (the Air doesn't fall in this camp though).

    Maybe you should throw in your same analysis for the 13" MBP since you believe that machine held it's value better. I would guess it may not be as different as you suspected.
  22. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    My roommate bought a 2009 Macbook (it's the model that looks like the pro, with a backlit keyboard and all) for $350. The days of getting an 80% ROI off your mac are over.
  23. Acorn macrumors 68020


    Jan 2, 2009
    the same thing happened with the first generation ipad. I had a 32 g 3g ipad and tried to get 200 for it and couldnt. so I gave it to my parents.

    it seems alot of different macs level out at 650-700 dollar range after time. they kinda float around that price for a longer period of time.
  24. Nychot macrumors 6502a

    Aug 15, 2011
    i sold my base 13" early 2011 mbp two weeks ago for exactly what i paid for it. i bought the 2012 base 13" mba. for about a week months ago i had a 2gb ram 64 gb ssd 11" mba, i guess it was a 2010 and just could not stand that small screen and the daintiness of it and returned it to bestbuy. i think the 11s are probably a student machine or for a biz man on the road or for some specialized purpose. but the 13" especially the new 2012 is SO light and SO fast, it's a dream. we just went on vacation and in my computer bag i had my mba, my wife's and my two iPad 3s etc etc etc and still had room for more. i will say that I've never lost much on the sale of a mac product. in the past year i've sold 2 white MacBooks from 2008, an iPad 1, 2 iPad 2s, an iPod touch, etc and came away feeling great for what i got. all sold on craigslist to local people who paid in cash. :D
  25. Queen6, Jul 1, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2012

    Queen6 macrumors 603


    Dec 11, 2008
    Putting out the fire with gasoline...
    Absolutely correct, by going down the BTO route and swapping out inside 24 months the only thing you are doing is providing someone else a very nice system at cut price, if you are planning on keeping the machine for the long haul then, and only then does it make sense to "max out" your Mac, very few will ever moniterize the additional feature/performance. As for "Ultimate" simply makes me laugh Ultimate profit margin is the name of the game for that, you will be "king of the hill" for an all too brief period in time before taking the loss and buying in again.

    If it makes you happy, if you have the $$$, if you truly have the need, all power to you, however I am sure even Apple wished they had coined "Ultamate" given the margins ;)

Share This Page