With the Apple Event looming only in the very recent past, leaks for the iPhone 12 and rumours of lots of upcoming changes, pouring in from left, right, and centre, anticipation for the release of the iPhone 12 is piquing.
After a couple of years of massively inflated prices (even more so when converted to Pak currency), in May, Gordon Kelly -writing for Forbes -proposed a rumoured price shift. Kelly suggested that Apple was set to turn the game on its side by significantly reducing prices and introducing yet another budget 5.4-inch model for just $649. This may not seem like a massive difference from the current range of iPhones but with the addition of 5G across the board, it makes for a pretty good deal seeing that the same feature compelled Samsung to inflate their prices by a whopping 20%.
Just three months after, Kelly followed up that article with another, putting a puncture in the happy bubble of hope many of us were harbouring. This, however, was still not the worst thing ever given the addition of 5G to the entire range. Somewhere in the middle, however, rumours surfaced that Apple has decided to follow suit with the removal of the headphone jack and now also take away the power adapter and EarPods. At this point, the inclusion of the charging cable is also quite uncertain. Allegedly, the reason for this is to not expend the exponentially higher production cost to the consumer.
While it makes sense on some level if you take the time to really hear them out, the point of contention here is beyond just numbers and figures. So, hypothetically speaking, say I have paid $699 for the entry-level iPhone. As a designer who wants to “stay within the ecosystem”, I spent another $1299 for the entry-level MacBook Pro. I decided not to go for a Wacom tablet and stick with the said ecosystem and go for the entry-level iPad Pro with the pencil for another $928 which, by the way, does not have a headphone jack either. And so I invested in the cheapest variant of AirPods for yet another $159. All in all, having spent a hefty $3,085 “stay within the ecosystem”.
I’d assumed this was a one-time investment for me but that can’t be the case owing to the infamous planned obsolescence making your perfectly-fine iPhone begin to glitch and crash every time there’s a new iPhone line-up set for release making you want to, and eventually have to, upgrade.
At some point, when I’m done piling on debt, I stop and wonder; what am I really paying for?
One would think putting over $3000 towards my dream of a seamless in-sync out-of-this-world user experience would grant me a lifetime of tech-happiness. But then Apple introduces Apple Music and takes away my access to free music that I can sync back and forth between my iPhone and MacBook. Okay, I shouldn’t have been pirating music so I guess I can live with this karmic injustice. The headphone jack is gone but I made do with the EarPods that came with the phone for a while and eventually gave in and bought Airpods too so that’s also been begrudgingly sorted. And now they’re allegedly taking away the power adapter and charging cable. Sounds profound and environmentally responsible if you think about how much waste will be prevented if we go on using our old iPhone chargers even when we upgrade our phones and if we’ve lost or broken or sold them, we can add another $20 to purchase one separately. The concept fails, however, on grounds Apple has supposedly furnished (reducing customer expense) as having to purchase an adapter separately will ultimately bring the price back up almost as much as it has been rumored to be reduced.
Being someone who always sells their current phone to put money towards a new one (as most people in Pakistan do), this only adds to the extra money I will now have to put in toward a new phone because a charger-less phone will sell for less than it would have with the charger. For an Android user looking to switch to Apple, it’s an extra $20 to put in even if it may not seem like a big amount.
So, I reiterate, what are we paying for? Are we paying for a seamless experience? Are we paying for the perks (almost none of which are free anymore)? Or are we paying to stay loyal to Almighty Apple Inc.?
What drives blind brand loyalty anyway?
According to a study at York University, there are three stages of brand loyalty, namely:
- Brand Recognition
- Brand Preference
- Brand Insistence
Companies like Apple, offering luxury goods, cash-in on the third and most difficult to achieve type of consumer loyalty. This is when they have crossed the first two stages and are confident enough that the consumer has developed a very firm liking for what they have to offer. It is beyond this point that they can begin to really start maximising their own profits (capital and otherwise) with the conviction that the consumer is highly unlikely to shift to a competitor brand.
And that is why despite so many of us cribbing and swearing we will switch to a different but just as good brand next time, come next time we dive deep right back into our pockets to deliver on the unspoken promise of unwavering allegiance!
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