- 3 Mar 09, 17:10 GMT
Without the usual fanfare, Apple unveiled an upgrade to its entire range of desktop computers this afternoon. But UK customers were quick to notice one thing - they were expected to pay higher prices. At a time when world computer sales are expected to see their fastest drop in history, this is what a senior civil servant would describe in conversation with a reckless minister as a "brave" move.
From now on, Apple's entry-level computer, the Mac Mini, which comes without a screen or a keyboard, starts at £499 - as compared to £391 before today. The 20in iMac now costs £949 - the old price was £782. Right at the top of the range, the brand new 8-core Mac Pro costs £2499, but the quad-core costs £1899, up from £1712. Apple told me that buyers were getting a lot more in terms of specifications than the previous models offered - but I pointed out that my first desktop cost me £1500 in 1995 for a computer which had marginally less memory than me on a bad day. We all know the rules - wait six months to buy a computer, and you get something with a higher spec for less cash.
So what's Apple's reasoning? In a word, the pound. The company says it has fallen 25% against the dollar over the last six months, and that's why UK customers are facing price rises where others are not. It's true that Japanese electronics firms - notably Nikon and Canon - have also raised prices in the UK because a strong yen and a weak pound was making it impossible to make money. But UK consumers will point out that Mac prices didn't fall when you could get $2 to the pound last summer.
Apple has once again proved that anyone who thinks they're going to follow the rest of the computer industry down the low-margin netbook road is living in a fantasy world. But I'm not convinced that eager customers will be storming the UK's Apple Stores to buy the new desktops. After all, you could get two netbooks for the price of a Mac Mini and still have change. So, as I said, a brave move - let's see what the sales figures say about its wisdom a few months from now.
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites