As I look over the history of this blog, dating back to 1999, I find that I’ve covered some subjects over and over. No, not because my memory isn’t quite as sharp as it used to be. My feeling, instead, is that a lot of tech commentators choose to forget or are so busy regurgitating silly theories about Apple that they don’t do their own research. So I have to remind them from time to time.
But even a few moments at Wikipedia would demonstrate that a lot of these memes are just not true. That doesn’t suit the agenda of the people who want you to believe that Apple, now with the highest market cap of any company on the planet, is ultimately toast.
Sure, some day Apple may fall, as does most any large company eventually, though some have hung around for well over a century in one form or another. Some that are shot down for one reason or another eventually come back, and Apple did that in the mid-1990s. Others don’t. But nothing is forever. Regardless, that’s the uncertain future, and this is today.
One of the most popular complaints is that Apple is not involved in certain product categories, or isn’t enhancing an existing product line hit a certain price point. The most common demand is for cheaper gear. There’s the common perception that Apple is a manufacturer of luxury gear and hence overcharges customers. People who buy Apple must be victims of the alleged “reality distortion field” that surrounded the pronouncements of the late Steve Jobs. Of course, Jobs died in 2011, so maybe that field is about to dissipate.
The illusion that Apple customers are part of a religious cult should have vanished soon as the company became mainstream, beginning with the iPod. So iPod, iPhone and iPad are commonly recognized as synonyms for the usual and customary names of the products they represent. This is somewhat similar to saying Jello instead of gelatin. But that didn’t happen because Apple pulled the wool over anyone’s eyes.
Now the so-called “Apple Tax” has long been shown to be a false concept. True, Apple plays in the mid-range or high-end of a market. But that doesn’t mean overpriced stuff. In most cases, Apple gear is comparably priced to products from mainstream competitors. I’m not talking about cheap knockoffs in China and elsewhere, but Samsung, Lenovo, Dell, HP — you get the picture.
Yes, you can show me a $300 PC, or a $100 smartphone. But when you compare them to what you get from Apple at even their lowest prices, you’ll find they are in different leagues. High-end smartphones and high-end tablets, at least models where the manufacturer actually hopes to make a profit, are in similar price tiers to Apple. The same is true for Macs and similarly outfitted PCs.
In some cases, though, Apple gives you the better deal, particularly as go up the ladder and consider high-end systems. A Mac Pro tends to actually be lower in price that even a home-built PC with similar parts. And I remember a conversation I had once with a Dell product manager, when I asked him why a Mac Pro of that era was notably cheaper than any comparable Dell workstation. His response was an embarrassed agreement with the statement, without saying anything more.
The long and short of it is that there tends to be little or no profit in cheap tech gear. That doesn’t equate to affordable. If you can’t buy a new Mac, buy a used one. You can also get a cheaper iPhone — or one free with a wireless contract — if you’re willing to accept an older model with somewhat slower performance. There are also cheaper iPads, but that’s not so different from what you’d get if you buy any company’s low-end model.
Now the demands that Apple enter a new product category may seem perfectly logical. But Apple has traditionally been cautious about which product categories to enter, and how that market should be served. No doubt there are loads of products in Apple’s test labs that will never get the green light, or won’t until market conditions change. In short, Apple doesn’t release something unless or until it’s ready. Contrast that to all of these smartwatches that are, for the most part, simple add-ons to smartphones and not much more.
Yet another tired argument, one I dealt with in more detail in yesterday’s column, is whether Apple should be licensing iOS or OS X. Only the most blatant offenders in illogic can really believe any of this makes a lick of sense. They look at Apple in the eyes of Microsoft, failing to realize that Apple sells hardware, and Microsoft mostly exists from software sales. Sure, Microsoft is trying its hand at building more hardware, but it’s not that the Surface table has so far been successful. Yes, the Xbox has done well in recent years, but only after Microsoft squandered billions of dollars trying to make a go of it.
Of course, if the usual offenders among industry analysts and columnists actually attempted to do their research, they wouldn’t write “hit bait” articles. Or maybe they just don’t care, which may be closer to the truth.