by Bill Snyder

Macs, iPhones and iPads: When to Get the Best Deal

May 02, 20123 mins
Computers and PeripheralsLaptopsMacBook

Sometimes it's better to wait before you shop. Aggregation site has a database that predicts when prices on Apple products will drop and by how much.

Myth: You can’t get bargains on Apple products because the company keeps a death grip on pricing.

Fact: A number of sites, including Amazon, MacMall, and MacConnection, offer significant discounts on new products  — but you have to know the best time to shop.

And that’s where Dealnews comes in. The 15-year-old aggregation site features frequent updates on pricing for a wide variety of items, with the emphasis on consumer electronics gadgets.


One the one hand, Dealnews is a bit like Pricegrabber, which presents links to Web sites selling items at today’s best prices. But the really interesting thing about Dealnews is that it’s also something of a forecaster that gives you an idea of when prices on newly available products are likely to drop.

Say you’re thinking about buying the new Macbook Pro when it comes out later this year. As you probably know, when a new model comes out, Apple will quickly cut prices on the old models, but pricing on the new versions will stay frozen (and expensive) for some time.

If you’re like a lot of us, you’ll get up early and get on line right away, thinking that there’s no point in waiting since the price won’t go down. It turns out, though, that discounts do happen.

Dealnews, a company spokesman told me, has a database stuffed with pricing information that goes back over more than a decade. The site will automatically crunch those numbers and a human employee will then verify them and present a pricing analysis.

In the case of the MacBook Pro with a 15.4-inch screen, historical analysis shows that in the past it has debuted at $1799, and dropped by $45 in just two days. But if you can be patient and wait three months and history repeats itself, you’ll be rewarded with a savings of $299.  

Of course, there’s no guarantee that those price drops will repeat themselves, and some Apple products stay expensive for some time. For example, it takes a whole year for the price of an iPad to drop by $139, and after two months the most you’ll save on a new iPhone is $31, according to Dealnews, which recently published a report on Mac pricing that you can read here.

Most products aren’t covered in that much detail, but unlike pure shopping sites, Dealnews has actual humans who do a bit of analysis on many of the entries.

You can also set up an alert that will notify you when Dealnews has new information about a particular product or store. Or you can simply browse by going to the home page and clicking through a series of choices.

Like eBay, Dealnews can be a little hard to browse because the filters aren’t always granular enough to sort out the accessories from the products.

Still, that’s a small price to pay in return for a bargain.