Apple @ Work: Is AppleCare a worthy investment for the enterprise?

Apple’s growth in the enterprise for the past few years caught many IT experts off guard. Windows had been the dominant platform for decades while Apple products were usually only for people using design software. As the iPhone and iPad became popular, the Mac benefited from a halo effect. A common question I am asked by other IT professionals is if AppleCare is a worthy investment for bulk enterprise purchases.

About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers has been managing an enterprise IT network since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise grade Wi-Fi, 100s of Macs, and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.

Opinions on AppleCare for personal use can be all across the board. Some people believe that it’s a great investment for products that cost a lot upfront, while others believe that statistically, it’s a waste of money. On the personal side, I can sum up my opinion on AppleCare with the belief if that you can afford to replace your MacBook Air, iPhone, or iPad if you break it, then avoid buying AppleCare. If you buy an iPhone every couple of years, constantly buying AppleCare will statistically be a bad investment by the time you could have purchased another iPhone with the amount you’ve spent.

Is AppleCare needed in the enterprise?

On the enterprise side, it can be a different discussion, though. When bulk purchases are involved, the amount spent on AppleCare begins to really become something to consider. IT professionals likely don’t see the phone support offered as part of AppleCare, so it really becomes simply about hardware repairs.

When looking at a bulk purchase of a hundred base model MacBook Airs (which are sold in packs of five), the total comes to nearly $98,000 depending on the discount Apple offers your organization. I am basing my numbers on the company’s education pricing. AppleCare for these computers would run over $20,000. Instead of buying AppleCare, an organization could actually purchase another 25 MacBook Airs to keep as spares in case of repairs that were not covered by the initial one-year warranty. Statically, most organizations will not see a 25% breakage rate after year one. Even if an organization didn’t want to buy extra laptops, they could easily have a repair budget to use in case machines were damaged.

In my opinion, the only caveat is here as the price of the Apple computer goes up; Apple doesn’t drastically raise the price of AppleCare. AppleCare doesn’t make sense on a sub-$1,000 MacBook Air. It does make sense on a $10,000 Mac Pro as AppleCare’s price costs less than the AppleCare price for a 16″ MacBook Pro.

Wrap up

For base model purchases, AppleCare doesn’t make sense for most organizations. Financially, it would be better to either purchase additional laptops to use as spares or have a repair budget with the amount that would have been spent on AppleCare. 9to5Mac has also partnered with a national repair company if you do end up needing out of warranty repairs for iOS and macOS device..

For higher-end purchases like Mac Pros, upgraded iMacs, or upgraded MacBook Pros it might make sense as you compare the purchase price to the AppleCare price. For a $5,000 purchase, an AppleCare upgrade for $200-250 makes a lot more sense than adding a $200 warranty on a $1,200 purchase. In most situations, AppleCare for the enterprise isn’t a great investment, though. Otherwise, just pay for repairs when they occur.

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