Pricing on Adapter for Apple iPhone 5 Causing a Stir
Apple's new iPhone 5 has many improvements, including being thinner and lighter, and having a faster processor and better camera.
Yet one of the improvements in the new iPhone is quite controversial.
Apple has upgraded the connector. Called Lightning, the new connector is much smaller than the old Apple connector - just 0.31 inch wide instead of 0.83. Since I have had several old Apple connectors that split from use, I really appreciate the fact that the new jack is quite a bit sturdier than the old one.
The Lightning connector can be inserted into the device in either direction, ending the frustration that everyone encountered when trying to plug in an Apple device. On top of that, inserting a Lightning jack into the device gives you a satisfying click that it is seated properly.
The thing that makes this new connector controversial is that it is not backwardly compatible. That means that it cannot be used with any older devices. It doesn't fit any existing accessories, docks or chargers. Apple offers an adapter as an additional purchase that can be used to connect the new phone to older devices.
I fully understand Apple's need to move ahead with new technology. In this case, the new connector was needed to allow Apple to shrink the size of the iPhone, which is now 18 percent thinner than the previous model.
The problem for me is the price. The new adapter costs $29 (or $39 with an >8-inch cable.) Apple is charging $29 for an adapter that probably costs them no more than $2 to produce. How arrogant!
We all know that Apple products are much more expensive than those from other manufacturers. I can purchase a PC laptop comparable to Apple's MacBook Pro for about $500, while the MacBook Pro sells for $1,200.
Apple is able charge these prices because it has built a reputation of solidly made, wonderfully designed products. But $29 to $39 for an adapter? Amazon sells the QuickCharge adapter for their new Fire HD for $10. While these two adapters are not exactly the same, you get the idea. Apple could - and perhaps, should - be selling their adapter for much less.
If you are purchasing an iPhone for the first time, the new connector may not be a problem. But if you've owned a previous Apple mobile device such as an iPhone, iPod or iPad, you may have accessories that are incompatible. If you are a typical user of Apple portable devices, you probably own an Apple car charger, an FM transmitter and a music dock.
Moving one adapter between these devices would be very inconvenient, so you will end up paying $87 for three adapters. Heavy Apple mobile users who have more accessories will pay more.
Of course, all the new Apple products have the new Lightning connector, so if you purchase a new iPod you will have the same problem. Hotels that provide radios with iPod and iPhone docks are complaining loudly because they don't want to have to provide an easily pilfered adapter for each hotel room or face the prospect of upgrading all of their devices.
The ones getting hurt the most, however, are those who have already bought into Apple's ecosystem, the ones who own a large variety of devices and accessories. It's the Apple fans who are going to have to ante up. That's why I call Apple's pricing of these adapters arrogant. They are hurting their own base.
Although everyone knows that Apple has high profit margins, Apple's recent legal suits have made some of its fans realize that the extra money they are paying Apple products is going right into the pockets of the high-priced lawyers.
Apple seems to be on the winning end of at least some of these suits, but the company has to remember that Americans often root for the underdog. When Apple recently won its suit against Samsung, the sale of Samsung's Galaxy SIII smartphones skyrocketed.
Of course, Apple has the right to fight anyone who infringes on their patents, but all the suing doesn't make them look much better than their foes.
Right now Apple is able to sit back and rake in high profits, but it may be time for them to realize that they might not be able to do that forever. The competition for smartphones and tablets is heating up, and Americans who love bargains and who root for the underdogs may not want to pay Apple's premium prices much longer.
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