There are many certainties in life. Death. Taxes. Late night talk show hosts making fun of presidential candidates. And Apple products priced higher than the competition. To a certain extent, I understand. With nearly every product, Apple plays in the so-called premium space, that product segment rich with gross margins and outsized profits. The company is as good as technology company has ever been at extracting a profit from a product that looks and feels like premium devices with both value and luxury in the mix, devices which appeal to those willing to pay the price.
Here’s the deal. I’m not getting richer. I’m not getting dumber either (which is why I won’t support an alleged presidential candidate who plans to cut my taxes and tax the rich and balance the nation’s ridiculous budget while policing the planet with the world’s most expensive military force; the math doesn’t add up).
Listen, Apple. I love you folks to death, and there’s no Apple product in the line that I wouldn’t prefer over absolutely positively anything manufactured by Dell, Samsung, or any other company that blatantly copies your designs instead of paying for an R&D budget.
Here’s the problem. Price matters these days. It’s not me. It’s you. Price doesn’t seem to matter much to the Apple executives who live in and around Cupertino, but it matters to those of us who all too often recently see more month left over at the end of our money.
Among personal computers, the Macs extract a premium, and I understand why. It’s a finely crafted device manufactured to exacting specifications. I lust over that dark Space Gray MacBook. But I waffle enough over the Gold that I haven’t decided on which to buy. I’d prefer a MacPro but when was that thing last upgraded with anything besides OS X El Capitan?
Yes, I’m an iPhone owner, and one of those fools on the annual iPhone Upgrade Program so I get a new one every year so long as I pay the piper. And the piper is so rich they’re giving money back to the shareholders who have done absolutely nothing for the company in nearly forever. Hey, shareholders just buy and sell stock, right? What else do they do for the company’s fortunes?
Lately I’ve been feeling bad because my expensive iPhone– and as far as I can tell, it’s about as expensive as smartphones get– doesn’t capture photos as good as a Samsung Galaxy whatever, which sometimes can be had from cell phone carriers in a two-for-one special. Has there ever been a two-for-one anything from Apple?
I know why iPad sales have been going down. It’s all about a product’s life cycle. Macs last for years. iPhones, not so much. iPads? Do those things ever stop working? I’d like to buy a new iPad Pro but can’t figure out whether to get this year’s 9.7-inch model or last year’s 12.9-inch model or wait until next year for an upgrade that I just can’t afford this year.
I remember a Steve Jobs keynote presentation from the last century where he whittled down Apple’s product line to four quadrants on a square. Pro and pro mobile. Consumer and consumer mobile. The iPad line alone has five different models with multiple colors, different storage capacities, and Wi-Fi and Cellular. Whew. That’s 40 different models in a lineup that I can’t really afford right now.
Apple of 2016 seems intent upon bewildering the customer with choice; models, colors, storage, memory, and a variety of configurations and prices that seemed designed to do one thing; extract my money from my person in exchange for the satisfaction of owning a valuable form of luxury.
Well played, Apple. Well played.
These days price matters, and not so much that I’m willing to go Dell or Samsung or whatever else claims to be worthy, but it matters sufficiently that I’m not riding in the forward cars of the upgrade train these days.