Have you ever wandered through a nearby grocery store and then compared what you can buy there with what you can buy at Whole Foods? Food is food, right? The same can of soup at Whole Paycheck can be twice as expensive or more as the same can at Walmart.
What’s the difference? Differentiation is key. Whole Foods specializes in different brands for different customers. Apple’s key to success is the same. Differentiation. Different products for different customers. Still, some Apple gear just costs too much.
I use an aging iMac as my desktop Mac at home. It’s just there, always on, always running 24/7. Instead of popping open my MacBook Pro to do some late evening work I just plunk down at the desk and bang away one the Mac’s keyboard. The old Bluetooth keyboard with the old Bluetooth Magic Mouse. Recently, both have begun to act as if I’ve maybe banged on the a bit too long and too hard, so I decided to look around for replacement gear.
Apple’s new rechargeable battery powered Magic Keyboard is $99. The new rechargeable battery powered Magic Mouse 2 is $79. They both do exactly the same thing as any decent Bluetooth keyboard or mouse from Amazon. Macally has an extended Bluetooth keyboard for Mac, iPhone, iPad, Windows PCs, and Android devices for $60 and a smaller version with a built-in stand for tablets and phones for $30
Got an iPhone? Apple’s silicone case for iPhone Xs is $39; same price as the larger case for iPhone Xs Max. Leather is $49. Similar cases are available on Amazon and range in price from about $12 to $24. You see the trend, right? Similar gear, much higher price from Apple than Amazon.
Got Apple Watch? The sports bands begin at $49 and can hit $489 for the Hermès leather bands. The popular Milanese Loop band is $149. I found a lookalike on Amazon for $12. It’s the second best watchband I’ve ever owned (the best was a bracelet watchband I bought on a trip back in 1990 for $69– including the watch; it still works). Amazon has dozens of Watch bands from $6 to about $40, but mostly less than $20.
It’s not that one can buy less expensive gear elsewhere. That has always and will always be the case. The question to ask is why does Apple charge so much for similar gear that is priced far less elsewhere? Lori Gil has a nice list of alternatives to Apple’s Magic Keyboard. For my iMac keyboard replacement I bought the Anker Ultra Slim keyboard on Amazon for $22. It was so good I bought another one to store in my iPad Pro’s case when on the road.
I love Apple products and would prefer a Mac to a Windows PC, even if the latter is priced much less. iOS and macOS are major differentiators, so the experience is not just about the price of hardware. In some cases, though, you can save some major dollars by not requiring that every accessory have an Apple logo on it.