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Re: Give 'Em The Finga!
The comments there are pretty much unanimous in their disdain for the thesis of the article and I'm in agreement. I've never understood it when supposedly intelligent people burp up nonsense that it's a terrible thing that consumers are able to get better products for lower prices with greater choices. The whole piece can be summed up in one sentence: "Apple mustn't be forced to compete and have their historic profits and stock price diminished!!!" The author is one of those people who believes that technology falls into super-premium elite stuff at a super-premium elite price and the crap stupid and poor people buy at Walmart and we all know what qualifies as the first category.
When the first iPod was introduced, it was $500 and only 5GB and I argued that as neat a gadget as it was, it was too expensive and even then there were iSnobs who felt that it was a good thing that Apple had such a high price because to them it was a status symbol, a Mercedes for the elite while the proletariat could suck it with their Diamond Rio Chevys. I believe tech should be as commoditized for the masses because it's better to have more tech in more hands, broadening the market. (Dollar stores don't put Neiman-Marcus out of business, you know?)
Apple's endless patent trolling, especially against Samsung, belies the weakness that underlies their lofty perch in the financial markets: They can't really innovate and their entire business model is based on extremely high-priced, high-margin status toys and every challenger threatens their image and bottom line. Steve Jobs may've been very good at taking other people's ideas - there's a great video about how Apple doesn't really "invent" anything so much as polish the heck out of others innovations and then claim credit for inventing it (e.g. Facetime) - but once they've made an initial breakthrough, they can't really do anything genuinely new and fresh. They basically have one product, the iPod Touch, and just added a phone radio or made it larger to come up with the iPhone and iPad. Other than adding a high-resolution screen and making them incrementally faster and thinner, what has Apple actually done in the five years since the originally iPhone? This is why they're desperately suing Samsung and demanding more than money, but for governments to not allow them to sell anything that may provide customers a choice and the Engadget hack is attempting to use specious arguments to advance that cause. He's failed.
While watching the livebogs of the iPad Mini announcement, the big question mark that hung over the whole show was what this me-too product would cost. If they had come in at $279 or $249, they would've seriously torpedoed Amazon and the Nexus 7 because it would be a small premium to buy the status symbol tablet. I've long believed that if you offered people a MacBook Pro for $1000 without the glowing logo on the lid or $1500 with it, iSheep would pay the five bills to let the world know how cool they were, since it's not really the tech they're desirous of; $30 more than a N7 is nothing. But because of Apple's luxury pricing and profit needs, they had to come in at $339 and deep sighs of relief were heard at Amazon and Google because Apple could've killed them and instead will probably cannibalize $500 iPad sales. Amazon had their best Kindle Fire sales day after the iPad Mini was announced.
Which brings us to the Nexus 4. Why is the tech press hammering the lack of LTE so hard? A: Because it distracts from the fact that Google and LG are tag-teaming to blow a serious hole in the traditional - and to consumers very costly - subsidized phone market racket between makers and carriers. Very few people can afford to pay the off-contract price, so the "savings" they get by signing on for two years of expensive phone service (which is where the real costs are) are illusory. It's like those rent-to-own places where you "only pay X dollars per week" but end up playing double or triple what the cash price may've been. (My g/f asked me when the iPhone was still newish why I hadn't gotten one and I told her it was because I couldn't justify $110+ per month for the service; the phone itself was the cheapest aspect.) $199 may not seem like much, but a few months ago a friend got an iPhone 4 because it was only $99. I tried to talk her out of getting one, either wait for the iPhone 5 or get a 4S, but $99 was all she could scrape up and she'll be stuck with it until the iPhone 7 is imminent.
So along comes a phone with top shelf specs and a bargain-basement price and, most importantly, no requirement that you sign your life away to a carrier for two years and allows users to choose from prepaid month-to-month plans from MVNOs for half or even a third of what traditional contracts cost. And according to Engadget this is a BAD thing?!?!? WTFF?!?!? The CNET review boiled down to "pay double to get LTE on an unlocked phone" as if most people can afford $700 for a GS3. Since the HOX and iPhone don't have SD and removable batteries, lacking LTE has been the thin reed upon which demonizing the Nexus 4 hangs upon. But the real question is whether LTE speeds are worth paying double for a phone and service. I was going to get a GS3 on AT&T but am now getting a N4 and will use AT&T's airwaves for half the cost which will save me over $900 over two years. I'm supposed to feel bad for Apple, I mean Acer because they can't make enough against the Nexus line? Spare me. I've got $900 in my pocket to spend; I'm busy.
What really panics Apple and by extension Mr. Fingas is that it's awfully hard to charge twice as much for things that aren't arguably twice as good. Is the Nexus 4 only half as good as an iPhone or GS3? Is the Nexus 7 only half as good as an iPad? No and no, but Apple's predominance requires that everyone believe they're worth paying double, but as the Kindle Fire delivered far more than 40% of an iPad, status (symbol) quo seekers are now worried that the Nexus 4 will chip away at more of the old ways. A phone that delivers 90% of the features for 50% of the price is a problem if people choose value over status.