Our View: $1,000 for a phone? You betcha

September 18th, 2017 11:22 pm

Did Apple finally go too far with its new $1,000 iPhone?

The answer is a resounding “yes” if you believe what you read on social media and what you may hear in daily conversation.

But if you really take the time to analyze it — and you don’t need an economics degree, just some layman-level observations — a cool grand for a phone should not come as any sort of surprise.

In fact, we’ve been headed in this direction for quite some time, and it’s simply the fact Apple has hit the magic four-figure mark in asking price that people are now raising eyebrows and taking notice. (Technically, the iPhone X will start just shy of four figures — at $999 — but that’s close enough.)

First, let’s go to some of the feign shock and awe that was heard after the X model and its price were unveiled.

Comments like this were posted to the Times Leader’s Facebook page when readers were asked if they would part with 10 Benjamin Franklins for the X:

• “Heck no — that’s ridiculous!”

• “No phone is worth $1,000”

• “Not in this lifetime!!!”

There was also an amusing GIF posted under the question we asked, featuring a continuous loop of Pee Wee Herman falling to the ground and laughing — that observer’s clever way of saying “No way, Francis.”

Despite all that, however, it is our firm belief many of the same people saying “absolutely not” to the $1,000 price tag will find themselves shelling it out at some point — either for the iPhone X, a future iPhone (which we’re guessing would cost more than $1,000), or for some competing model.

That’s because most of us have become smartphone addicts and would be unable to go about our daily lives without that particular device in our hands umpteen times an hour.

But many will not admit it — either the amount of time they spend on their phone or what they pay to support that habit, perhaps because it’s seen as anti-social, unproductive or a waste of money. (Hence, some of the online outrage.)

Make no mistake about it, though, we are a nation of addicts. A recent J.D. Power report put the average monthly cellphone bill at $73, which works out to almost $900 annually.

That makes the $1,000 figure seem much more palatable, even more so when you consider most iPhone buyers spread out the cost of a new device via payment plans.

So, to think Apple has gone too far or will suffer in some way is foolish. And now that it’s at the four-figure mark, what’s to stop CEO Tim Cook, rival Samsung or anyone else from asking $1,500, or $2,000 or — yikes — $3,000 for a new model by the end of this decade?

You know it’s going to happen. And when it does — maybe somewhere around 2020 or 2021 — $1,000 for a phone could seem dirt cheap.

It’s the end result of consumer conditioning. Remember when gas first hit $1.99, then $2.99, then $3.99 or more for a brief while? That’s why what we’re paying at the pump now —$2.85 or so — doesn’t seem so awful.

Apple and the rest of the industry — Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 just debuted at more than $900 — are slowly conditioning us.

After all, what’s there to do but steadily raise prices when smartphone companies are facing a market that grows more saturated by the minute.

As Fortune pointed out: “There simply aren’t many people left on the planet who can afford an iPhone but who don’t already have one. By raising prices and adding a more expensive model, Apple can generate a big jump in revenue even if it sells the same number of phones.”

Or maybe even fewer phones.

Time to either get over the sticker shock, or go back to a landline. Things will only get more expensive from here.

— Times Leader

FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, file photo, the new iPhone X is displayed in the showroom after the new product announcement at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif. Apple fans who froze their credit after the Equifax data breach may end up with another hassle on their hands if they try to get one of the new iPhones that can cost more than $1,000. People who did so and want to make any big purchase may find the same. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
http://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/web1_118494692-f97117beea1f4589b4fecb082b47724c.jpgFILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, file photo, the new iPhone X is displayed in the showroom after the new product announcement at the Steve Jobs Theater on the new Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif. Apple fans who froze their credit after the Equifax data breach may end up with another hassle on their hands if they try to get one of the new iPhones that can cost more than $1,000. People who did so and want to make any big purchase may find the same. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)


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