25 Oct 2015

Opting Out of Apple’s Price Gouging

It’s no secret that Apple gouges its customers in many ways. For example, Lightning cables cost ₹1370, whereas you can get a micro USB cable for ₹200 or less.

Now they’ve introduced a new set of Mac accessories. The Magic Trackpad 2 goes for $130. I’m sure that’s magical for Apple shareholders more than for anyone else. I use the current Magic Trackpad, which itself goes for a high price, around ₹6000. Now Apple has increased the price to $130. I can buy an Android One phone for that price.

Then there’s the supposedly magical mouse, for $79. Actually, it’s a terrible mouse. It doesn’t fit the shape of your hand at all, so it’s very uncomfortable to use. The first time I used one, I thought, “How can anyone get a mouse so wrong in 2010?” It was as if someone made a laptop with a keyboard that has keys in alphabetical order, instead of QWERTY. These things have been figured out long back. There’s no excuse for messing them up today.

The Magic Mouse is the first mouse that supports multitouch gestures, but when I tried to make one, the entire mouse moved along with my hand, rather than my fingers swiping across the mouse. This is because the mouse is light, as it must be if it were to work effectively as a mouse. Whereas a surface to swipe on should be heavy and have some stability to remain where it is as you swipe.

As if an overpriced trackpad and non-magical mouse aren’t enough, there’s a $99 keyboard, but with half-height arrow keys, which makes for a broken keyboard.

If you were to buy Apple’s keyboard and trackpad, you’ll spend $230. For so much money, you could buy a Chromebook or a tablet. Or, two Android One phones. In what world does that make sense? Only in the world of ₹1400 Lightning cables, unfortunately.

Then Apple ships iDevices with insufficient 16GB storage, even as they add Ultra HD video and Live Photos and other features that take up a lot of storage. Many reviews warn against buying this model, instead recommending the 64GB model. But Apple charges an exorbitant price of ₹10K for the upgrade. I can buy a 64GB micro SD card [1] for ₹1400. That’s a 7x difference. And that’s on top of the already high price of the base model of the iPhone 6s, which is ₹62K. In what world does it make sense to pay ₹72K for an iPhone when I can get the excellent [1] Nexus 5x for  ₹32K, which is less than half the price of the iPhone?

So, I refused [2] to buy an iPhone 6s. The same thing happened last year when I refused to buy an iPhone 6. If Apple keeps playing this game, they’ve lost me [3] as a customer. I’ll instead stick to my old phone, or buy Android.

[1] Several years back, Android was bad, and the iPhone was the only good smartphone, so if you wanted a great smartphone, you had no choice but pay Apple’s premium. For a few years now, Android phones caught up, and in many cases surpassed the iPhone, whether it’s the camera, the clarity of the screen, or other aspects. It’s no longer true that the iPhone is unambiguously better than Android. Even if it is, it’s marginally better, justifying at most a 20% premium over the best Android phone, not a 2x.

[2] I set myself a rule to never spend more on a phone than the maximum I’ve spent in the past, which is ₹52K for the iPhone 5s in 2013. So, from now on, I’ll buy a phone only if I can get it for less than that. As I wrote, I’ll want a 64GB model, but at ₹52K. Since iPhones are overpriced when they come out, I’ll wait till the price decreases below this threshold.

And that’s the price I’m willing to pay for the current model. Last year’s iPhone, with 64GB storage, goes for ₹52K now. I’ll pay ₹52K only for the current model. If I’m buying last year’s model, the most I’ll pay is ₹39,999. 

If Apple won’t sell at this price — ₹52K for the latest model, or  ₹39999 for last year’s model, both 64GB — I’ll stick to my old phone, or buy Android.

[3] Apple charges ₹19K more for the iPhone in India than in the US. Customs is not an excuse — they can pay it themselves instead of passing it on to me. After all, $650 iPhones cost only $200-$250 to make, so Apple can eat the customs duty. Again, this wouldn’t matter if Apple sold the 64GB iPhone 6s for ₹49,999. But at ₹72K, I won’t accept any excuses in the name of customs duty.

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