Sunday, November 30, 2014

Apple's strategic gouging for a new century

I never dreamed anyone would have the chutzpah to sell a product so shoddy that it has proven repeatedly it cannot last more than two years. I never dreamed that anyone would have the chutzpah to charge $85 to replace the product (a power cord/adapter). But then, I lack the vision that made Steve Jobs the quasi-supernatural figure he is today.

The day I bought my Macbook laptop computer, I saw how the power cord pinched and bent where it met the plug, and I thought no way that thing will last. Sure enough, it frayed and broke after less than two years of not especially intensive use. (I loved the Apple store employee's — or does Apple call them partners or associates? — explanation that I would not have had to pay $85 for a $15 adapter if I had paid $249 for an AppleCare protection plan. Technology, as I wrote at the time, was not the only area where Jobs was a genius.) And now, a year and a half later, the replacement cord has gone on the fritz.

Apple's strategy is brilliant, really. Make and sell a good but expensive product, and you can afford to gouge the customer on the vital accessories. In fact, it would be irresponsible to the shareholders to do anything less. After all, no one is going to toss out a $1,500 computer because of a shitty power cord.

Jobs once said the world is full of things invented by people no smarter than you yourself. He was wrong about that. Jobs was much smarter than most people, and not just for the reasons his hagiographers would like the world to believe.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014 

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7 Comments:

Blogger R.T. said...

And you wonder why I long for the good old days when we had Remington typewriters, party-line telephones, and stem-wound wristwatches.

My special super-bitch complaint is ink for printers. Don't even get me started on that scam.

I long for pre-computer days even as I appreciate the irony of keyboarding this comment via the Internet.

Computer technology and the money-grubbing providers: you can't live with them and you can't live without them.

November 30, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You're right about printer ink, which probably sells for more than its weight in gold. What sets this set of money-grubbing corporate greed heads apart from their predecessors is the social cachet they enjoy. Take a stroll past your local Apple store some Friday night and see what I mean.

November 30, 2014  
Blogger R.T. said...

We have the power by not purchasing. But we prefer the product rather than the power.

November 30, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That's why Apple's gouging on the AC adapters is so brilliant: The basic product--the computer--is good. I hate the phenomena of the Apple store and the deification of Steve Jobs, but I bought a Macbook because it had two or three features I needed. Once that happened, Apple had me hooked. I suppose it took some research to determine how far they could take the shoddiness and price gouging before the customer gives up and buys another machine.

As I've said, the basic computer is good, but if I have to replace it, I'll know next time to investigate the durability of accessories in order to mitigate the advantage Apple gains by offering shitty essential accessories and overcharging for them. I suspect Apple has economists trying to calculate how much of that sort of thing it can get away with without hurting sales of its basic product.

November 30, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In other words, who is going to boycott a $1,500 or $1,700 computer over a a measly power cord, even an absurdly overpriced one?

November 30, 2014  
OpenID melhealy said...

That struck a chord in our house and you hit the nail on the head - Apple's brilliant/crappy design is a bit like the good cop / bad cop routine in crime fiction.

December 03, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm glad to find a fellow Apple sufferer, but I'm not sure Apple good computer/crappy accessories strategy is comparable to the good cop/bad cop trope. With Apple, buyers put up with one because they need the other.

Then again, the bad-cop strategy is comparable to what Apple does if the fictional cops deliberately try to figure out how badly the bad cop can act before the civilian goes public or files a lawsuit. The Apple counterpart would be how shoddy and overpriced can we make our accessories before the customer says the hell with it and buys a PC instead.

December 03, 2014  

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