So I read this article on CNN titled how to ‘score popular Apple products at a discount’.  They go on to tell us the Apple Store sells iPods at retail price and ‘contrary to popular belief’ you can actually save money off of retail price.  I say, the last time I checked the vast majority of people understood what sales were and iPods have been around long enough to actually go ‘on sale’.  Yes, the holidays can be a tricky time but there are reasons why you’d buy your Apple device from the Apple Store versus buying online at a discount.  Lets cover a couple of the pros and cons of each.

For the vast majority, convenience is key during the holiday shopping season.  You want your product in pristine, gift-worthy condition because it actually does represent you in a way.  That’s why people justify shopping at the Apple Store or other major retailer.  If there is a problem, you don’t have to ship your device away and wait for resolution, you can walk right into the store no more than a day later and exchange it.  You also go in knowing they don’t stock late-model, refurbished or B-stock merchandise.  Shockingly, the cost of this kind of convenience is ‘Retail Price’.  So, to summarize:

Pros of Apple Retail Shopping:

  • No return hassles.
  • Inspection of the actual gift before buying.
  • Most recent technology.

Cons of Apple Retail Shopping:

  • You pay retail price.

That brings us to scoring a deal on an Apple product.  If you don’t need the product today, and you’re willing to compromise on the model year of your device, then you stand to catch a pretty big break on the price.  This may not come as a surprise to most of you, since you’re already accustomed to paying less for last years stuff.  The question is, what does ‘last years Apple stuff’ really mean?  Well, in this case it means a heck-of-a-lot!  Last years iPod Touch lacks the high-resolution Retina display, doesn’t support FaceTime, and can’t record HD video.  That may or may not break the deal for you, but should know that last year’s refurbished iPod touch is selling for $149 at the Apple Store online, versus the retail price of $229 for the latest model.  Is $80 worth HD video, a better screen and a pocket video conferencing device?  In my opinion, yes it is.  On the other hand, is a device that can surf the web, run the majority of iPhone/iPod apps and still comes with all the standard iPod features worth $150?  In my opinion, yes it is too.

But I digress.  Unfortunately, the CNN article is a bit misleading, since you don’t really score ‘popular’ iPod products for a whole lot less than retail.  Sure, there are some online stores that will take as much as 10% off the retail price, but you’re not going to find the same 30-35% discounts you find on refurbished products.  Apple does offer 10% discounts for students and teachers, but they collect sales tax anywhere they have a retail presence, which offsets most of the discount.  Generally, the best way to save on the latest Apple products is to shop through Amazon.com, where you can save as much as 10% off retail.  If you don’t live in Kansas, Kentucky, New York, North Dakota, or Washington, you’ll also save the sales tax.  So, to summarize:

Pros of buying Apple Products online:

  • Saving money.
  • Ability to purchase last years products.

Cons of buying Apple Products online:

  • Hassle of returns.
  • Inability to physically hold the product before purchasing.