I couldn't resist this Consumerist headline to once more validate my opinion that Apple users suffer from "battered customer syndrome." Before you get started on what must be my dogmatic sense of loyalty to the PC, I assure you that I bear no religious affinity for anything technical. I do, however, have my opinions. Lately I've been struggling with the whole Apple market. Yea I like what they have to offer and the local influences (I live in Hollywood) are impressive. My problem is that every time I look at what it'll cost me I break out into cold sweats followed by intense indignation. I want to avoid the pain that I see many of my closest friends go through every time Apple introduces a new sexy thing and they need to shell out more bucks to get "a fix". I've literally been given strategies on when to purchase Apple equipment to get the best deal so I won't feel so bad (read ripped-off) when the price drops hundreds of dollars just weeks after I make the purchase (that's the voice of experience).
Just as I began to ready my argument - bolstered by the following juicy quote and table - for the weekly pub night/Apple love-in I attend, I had to stop myself and check my facts.
The new iPhone is not more affordable. Anyone deceived by Apple's lower price point is going to get a nasty wake-up call when they read their first bill...
The quote is more like one of those passionate cries from an audience that is used to being jerked around and are constantly looking for the hook in a good story. It's the waitaminute syndrome asking "why is Apple giving me a $200 break?" Mind you PC users are skeptics too - it's all good in my opinion. But the truth, in this case, lies somewhere else. The real situation is that the iPhone 3G is actually putting the iPhone into cellular mainstream. As I looked at the numbers provided in the article I decided to do some price comparisons of other carriers and phones. I came up with the following:
My criteria for the comparison included: touch navigation, unlimited data, ~200 SMS messages, and smartphone features. I decided to toss in a BlackBerry comparison for grins. Interestingly the iPhone 3G falls between the competitors prices. In other words the iPhone Original is a actually good deal, and as Gizmodo points out, the iPhone 3G costs more because it is better, uses a faster network, ya da da, ya da da.
What's really depressing me about this is that the iPhone represented a new paradigm for mobile technology, especially pricing models. I liked the fact that iPhone users could get the voice, SMS messaging, and unlimited data for the same price I am paying for my Verizon voice-only plan (BTW: I'm a reluctant Verizon Wireless customer). Sadly that model is going the way of the cellular gulag that all the rest of us are putting up with; 2 year lock-in contracts, paying both ways for SMS with no opt out (IMHO that should be illegal), and paying through the nose for service that constantly drops out on me even though I am in a major metropolitan area (OK there are some canyons, but not on Santa Monica Freeway).
If Apple wanted to be truly revolutionary they could leverage their popularity and strength to break the full nelson that cellular companies have on American consumers (can't speak for other markets). Realistically I recognize that Apple is in the hardware business and not the revolution business (despite advertising claims). It's up to consumers to demand better deals and service. In the meantime we'll keep buying what's offered. I realize that cellular service is expensive to provide and that devices aren't cheap. But, like the airline business, the cellular companies have given the impression that it's cheap by literally "giving away" devices to lock us into expensive and hard to break contracts with mediocre customer service.Talk about battered customers!