Don’t fire up the flaming keyboards just yet. Hear me out.
Apple’s trend over the past couple of years has been good for Mac users, good for Windows users, good for music lovers, good for owners of the Mac maker’s stock.
Indeed, just a few years ago, Apple needed money from Microsoft to prop up a sagging financial image. Just a couple of years ago you could have bought Apple stock at around $14 a share. Now it’s in the $80s and a lot of stock owners are very happy.
The once-embattled computer company is rolling in cash; to the tune of about $6-billion. And no debt. Customers are buying everything the company can make and paying top dollar for it.
It’s just that I see another trend developing. Is it price gouging?
Generally speaking, Mac users (and iPod users) have always paid something of a premium for the privilege of owning products from Apple. And, generally speaking again, those products have made us happy, so, it’s easy to say, “big deal.” A company needs to make a profit to survive, prosper even.
How much profit is OK?
Microsoft’s made so much illicit profit in recent years that they had to return some of it to their shareholders. The Redmond software giant couldn’t find any more places to invest (read: “lose money”) their ill-gotten gains.
Apple now has more money in the bank than it has ever had. The stock price is the highest (historically, and a recent blip notwithstanding) ever. There’s no debt whatsoever. They’re making so much money that even Apple’s executives are getting rich (Steve Jobs was already rich before his comeback in 1997) feasting on stock options.
So, with all this money, all this success, all the great press, what does Apple do?
Charge Mac users, iPod users even more money.
The benefits of a $499 Mac mini notwithstanding, the Cupertino King of the Digital Hub is now charging handsomely for what used to be free (Firewire cable; see below). And Apple is about to charge handsomely for another operating system upgrade.
Even margins on the lowly iPod shuffle are the highest in the industry. Some analysts think that Apple will make more money on a $150 iPod shuffle than on a $350 iPod with a hard drive and color screen.
Is this a monetary trend that doesn’t bode well for the Apple faithful, the long-time and loyal Mac user, and the now millions of iPod users (both Mac and Windows)?
I think so.
Case in point. No more Firewire cables in the new iPods. USB 2.0 only. If you have a Mac just a couple of years old, you’ll have to shell out another $20 for a Firewire cable.
The older Macs have USB 1.x and don’t even try to move 1,000 songs from your Mac over old USB.
Click Here to read what others are saying about the neglect and disdain Apple is showing for new iPod purchasers.
Wait. There’s more.
Most other online music stores charge less than the 99-cents per single song download on Apple’s iTunes Music Store. In some places, Apple charges so much more per song that they’re even being investigated by authorities.
It’s true. Click Here for the nasty details.
Wait. There’s more.
Our favorite computer company now sells the less expensive iPod shuffles in two flavors; $99 and $149. Guess what? Those iPods, according to analysts, have margins around 40-percent, which means Apple’s making more money than ever on lower priced iPods.
Oh, the new new iPods? No dock. Pay extra.
Not convinced we’re being gouged by our favorite nemesis of the company we love to hate? Guess what? Mac OS X “Tiger” is due soon and we’ll end up paying another $129 for that upgrade.
“I moved off the Windows PC platform a few years ago because of all the grief they continued to cause the customer. I’d prefer that Apple not take the same route.”It’s bad enough that Apple doesn’t ship a keyboard or mouse with the relatively inexpensive Mac mini, now we’re getting the nickle and dime routine, too. When will it end?
So, if you’re an iPod user rejoice in the shuffle because it doesn’t have a screen. It’s possible new iPods with color screens will also run advertising? What? Advertising on an iPod?
Yep. Click Here for a tongue-in-cheek view of what Apple could be up to next.
For me, yes, I’ll keep drinking the Kool-Aid, just like you. But I want Apple to know that I’m watching what they do and how they price and what kind of “value” they provide.
I moved off the Windows PC platform a few years ago because of all the grief they continued to cause the customer. I’d prefer that Apple not take the same route.