Color me as one of the many Apple watchers who wasn’t pleased with the company’s recent nearly non-announcement. There’s a new iPad with a starting price at $329. A new Product Red iPhone. A video clips app for iPhone coming soon. An iPhone SE storage bump. And a bunch of Apple Watch bands and iPhone cases in new colors.
Big whoop, right? Move along. Nothing to see here.
Wil didn’t think too much of it, either, as laid out in his “Honestly, I Got Nothing” missive on Apple CEO Tim Cook. I followed that with “Yes, Apple Needs A Makeover” and a list of items that needed some work.
What bothers me about Apple’s recent announcement and the multi-year trend toward progressive product anemia, is how our favorite iPhone maker positions product prices. It’s crazy. Some products– iPhone, Mac Pro, Apple TV, iPad Pro– are ridiculously overpriced relative to the competition, but who can argue with Apple’s success? Profits abound. iPhone and Mac are selling in record numbers and that contributes plenty to the company’s bottom line.
On the other hand, Apple Watch, the new AirPods, and now the basic 9.7-inch iPad are priced more like Dell would price such devices. Seriously? Yes. Relative to what it does, how well it has been received, and it’s sticker price, Apple Watch isn’t priced like Apple prices iPhone. AirPods? Find another set of wireless earbuds that do as much for a much lower price tag. And now the new iPad, which starts at $329 and only $299 for the education market, seems as if the company hired a pricing expert from Dell.
Either Tim Cook is moving Apple toward a new era of lower margins, lower prices, and higher unit sales, or the company’s executives have been sniffing too much of the glue holding together Steve Jobs Spaceship Campus in Cupertino and have developed something of a split personality.
Added to that strange mix of expensive and relatively cheap, is the iPhone SE. Yes, there are plenty of issues in the iPhone SE. It’s an iPhone 5 case from years ago, but it has a good camera, faster CPU, and now, double the storage for the same $399 price (which often shows up on sale for less). That allows Apple to be compared more favorably when pricing is an issue. Yes, the iPhone 7 Plus is $769 but the smaller iPhone SE is almost half that.
What’s going on?
Watch, AirPods, iPad, and iPhone SE are relatively inexpensive while Mac Pro, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPad Pro models are ridiculously expensive; all relative to competition and the market.
Here’s my fear.
Apple is moving to a more competitive pricing position because the company does not have a new product in the pipeline. No, an upgraded iMac, Mac mini, or iPhone 8 don’t count as new products. They’re updated products. What’s new? Since Steve Jobs died in 2011, Apple has updated its entire product line a few times, but only introduced Apple Watch and AirPods as new products, both of which are mere accessories to iPhone.
I won’t complain if Apple pulls a Dell and starts pricing products accordingly, but such a move also tells me that Apple is out of ideas.