This unmistakable trend is troubling. Apple has doubled-down on its position as the premium brand. I understand the issue but I worry that in the future I may not be able to afford some of Apple’s products.
Name a smartphone that is more expensive than iPhone. Name a Windows PC model that is more expensive than a comparably equipped Mac. It’s possible to the point of probable that Apple may drop the slow selling Mac Pro and Mac mini from the lineup. The aging MacBook Air won’t be around much longer, replaced by a much more expensive but not necessarily more powerful MacBook.
What Price Luxury?
We must consider the obvious. Apple is a premium, aspirational brand, and because all of the company’s major products– Mac, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Watch– can be differentiated from Android, Windows, or whatever by their respective operating systems, Apple can and does position itself at the expensive end of the industry spectrum.
There once was a time when Apple ruled the education market. Today, the company’s presence has dwindled substantially, to the point where more inexpensive Chromebooks are sold than Macs, even replacing iPads. That schools need to teach children who to use computers is a non-issue, but the reality is a $299 Linux-based Chromebook (and new ones run Android apps; which are mostly free) compares favorably to an iPad and especially against a Mac.
Not even a decade ago I bought yet another cheese grater Mac Pro; that giant aluminum clad behemoth that packed power and expandability into a mini-fridge case. These days I get more mileage and back for the buck with an iMac which also has a built-in Retina 5k display. That means no more Mac Pro for me.
My last iPad was the iPad Air which debuted nearly two years ago. Why didn’t I upgrade to a new 12.9-inch or 9.7-inch iPad Pro? Both are more expensive, and other than Pencil, it’s hard to build a use case for a device that has such a high price tag but doesn’t do much more than an older model.
Word on the streets says the new iPhone 7 will dispense with the entry-level 16GB version– the one assailed by critics who would never buy such an anemic model in the first place, but which served as a price point placeholder to migrate customers to more expensive iPhones with more storage– and replace it with a 32GB model. That’s fine. But there’s also talk of an iPhone Pro model with better camera, vastly more storage, and perhaps a few additional hardware goodies to justify the price increase, and segregate it from the riffraff of iPhone customers who shop at Walmart.
The most recent financial results for Apple should be a wake up call. iPhone sales hit a wall. iPad sales were down again. Mac sales were down, too, and substantially. Why? I have a theory. Apple’s products– as always– are more expensive when compared to the competition, but in a softening world economy, computer users, and these include PC, notebook, smartphone, and tablet users, are more savvy about their expenditures and less inclined to splurge than in recent years.
The world is filled with product brands at varying price points. There are average brands and upscale brands; often from the same manufacturer. Toyota and Lexus are good examples. My fear is that Apple is moving beyond upscale, past premium, and all the way to luxury.