The iPhone price drop

It’s easy to forget, sometimes, how myopic people can be, how short their memories are, and how selectively they recall the little bits of the the past that they do. The willful idiocy of consumers was driven home again as portions of the net erupted in outrage over Apple’s price drop of their hot iPhone. Why would anyone be upset over a price drop you say? Cheaper is better, you say? Foolish person, you overlook those who bought before the price drop.

This tempest in a teacup reached such a fury yesterday that Apple’s Steve Jobs posted a letter of apology and offered all of the initial iPhone buyers a $100 credit. As kind as that is, I hate to see whining rewarded, and I think Jobs’s response is exceedingly generous. As he notes:

…being in technology for 30+ years I can attest to the fact that the technology road is bumpy. There is always change and improvement, and there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you’ll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon. The good news is that if you buy products from companies that support them well, like Apple tries to do, you will receive years of useful and satisfying service from them even as newer models are introduced.

I admire Mr. Jobs’s contrition, but I agree more with his comment in USA Today, before this frenzy reached a head:

Q: What do you say to customers who just bought a new iPhone for $599? Sorry?
A: That’s technology. If they bought it this morning, they should go back to where they bought it and talk to them. If they bought it a month ago, well, that’s what happens in technology.

The New York Times had a series of pieces on the brouhaha, as did many other news outlets, and I was amazed at their patience with those who bought early and then felt gouged. Did these people imagine the early price was the final price? That this product was unlike every other electronic gadget that improves over time while costing less? That the iPhone was immune from basic laws of supply and demand or that Apple wouldn’t rightfully maximize its revenue on the early phones by raking off as much premium as the market would bear? I bought a Palm III in 1998 – perhaps Palm owes me money back now that the same cash I paid then for a 2MB black and white device will now garner me a 64MB, color web browsing smart phone? The logic is the same, as far as I’m concerned, and it is of course bunk. When you buy something, you demonstrate you think the price is merited and once you have the product you get the value of ownership. If you didn’t think the iPhone was worth what they were asking, you wouldn’t have bought it, right?

Outrage of this scale usually hinges on fraud or delusion, but Apple has never suggested its initial pricing of the iPhone was carved in stone. How adults could spend several hundred dollars and then act like such spoiled children is appalling to me. Why are the iPhone buyers entitled to special treatment? When my father’s flashy new MacBook Pro is eclipsed by the next new laptop from Apple, will Apple offer him a credit for his disillusionment over no longer having the newest shiniest toy? Of course not.

I will stop sputtering now, but I will also link to Gruber on this, as he has some other useful thoughts. Gartenberg also makes a valuable point about the perhaps unusual cross section of buyers that make up the early iPhone customers. I am glad to see ol’ FSJ apologize as well.

UPDATE: Hysterical – Jobs Offers Apple Lisa Early Adopters Store Credit

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