For most of the 21st century Apple has cruised along the edge of high quality design and manufacturing, high performance products, that are mostly affordable, desired by the masses, and profitable for the company.
The latest Mac to enter the stratosphere of technology desires is the new Mac Pro, more reminiscent of a sturdy desktop trashcan or air purifier than a high powered media production machine. What’s wrong with that?
Bona Fide Me Worry Machine
My inherent fear is that Apple could be pricing itself away from the customers that love the company the most.
Yes, the Mac Pro packs a lot of power and capability into a fabulously attractive yet discreet package the likes of which Windows PC users can only dream.
And, much like the iPhone and iPad, Apple has managed to make the Mac Pro look and feel like the special device it is, desired by many, affordable by few.
And, much like the iPhone, iPad, as well as the the entire Mac line of desktops and notebooks, Apple’s Mac Pro is, well, there’s no other way to put it– expensive.
Yes, I know that if you compare similar hardware from Dell or whomever among the purveyors of PC iron happens still to be in business as you read this, a lower priced, similarly equipped PC will be hard to find.
The one fact that cannot be quibbled over is that Apple’s products top the list of expensive user oriented personal computing devices. Mac, iPhone, iPad, Mac Pro. Nearly every other manufacturer prices similar products at a lower price point. That’s what gives Apple those enormous profit margins that help make the company and its executives wealthy.
The Two Step Tango
Two factors come to mind. The first– to most people lesser endowed products at a lower price point are more than ‘good enough.’ That explains why smartphones and tablets are almost always priced lower than Apple’s iPhones and iPads, and though the latter remain price competitive, they also own the high end of the pricing spectrum.
The second, and nearly as important, is that Apple owns the coveted ‘must have‘ and ‘aspire to own‘ segments of competitor’s customer base. A segment of the many millions of people in China who may use a cheap plastic Android smartphone or tablet knockoff, really want the status and class (and, ostensibly, the usability) associated with owning an Apple product.
The inherent danger in those relatively expensive and high quality aluminum clad computing devices with all the seamless bells and whistles has to do with a very fluid intangible– desire of ownership.
As long as Apple can compete on the packaged design of hardware and software that is desired and admired by a sizable portion of the masses (whether they own the device now or later), the company will continue to prosper. But once that desktop trashcan or aluminum lump of electronics is viewed as unnecessarily overpriced, Apple’s house of cards will tumble faster than fast and furious.
Remember, crackberry users were addicted to their BlackBerrys, but where is that former market leader today? IBM once ruled the PC industry but today doesn’t even make PCs. Sony was once the company admired by Steve Jobs? Today’s Sony struggles for solvency, let alone relevance in a rapidly changing marketplace.
In the areas that matter, customer satisfaction and profit, every Apple product is on top now. Just remember; other companies were on top before Apple.