The Apple Tax

One of the websites that I frequent (and anyone else remotely interested in tech news) is Cnet. This article was posted on their Crave blog yesterday and the content of the article really gets under my skin. I am a late comer to the Ipod party, having resisted the irresistible call of the white headphones all through my college years and well into my graduate studies. Last fall I finally bit the bullet and purchased a 2nd generation Ipod Touch. My purchase was driven not by the desire to find a good music player (I have two other Mp3 players that fill that duty perfectly), but rather because of the integration of features that I found appealing. I purchased the device for three main reasons, 1. The ability to take my Outlook calendar and email contacts with me wherever I go; 2. The ability to access the internet via WiFi; and 3. The Nike+ system so that I can track my running progress as I train for races.

Thankfully, beyond the purchase of a basic case and Nike+ puck, I haven’t dropped any more dough into my Ipod. I have three great pairs of headphones that I use for different purposes so the terrible white ear buds never even saw the light of day. Unfortunately, people who drop the bucks for one of the new, suppository shaped, Ipod Shuffles is going to pay a hefty Apple tax. Why? Here’s a quote from the Crave article:

This doesn’t come as any great surprise to us because exacting licensing revenue from iPod accessory makers has become a brilliant way for Apple to add to the company’s bottom line. But that “Apple tax,” so to speak, does get passed on to consumers, and iLounge and others are now assuming that Apple headphone adapters will cost a minimum of $19 and possibly as much as $29. The handful of VoiceOver-compatible headphones that have been announced carry a starting price of $49.99.

So, if you pay $80 for the new Shuffle and don’t like Apple’s ear buds, well, get ready to pay big bucks to either buy an adaptor for your current headphones or pay upwards of $50 for a set of “Apple Approved” devices. my biggest issue with this is that for years I have heard Microsoft painted as a big, evil, monopolizing corporation for their domination in the corporate and consumer OS market. Apple, due to their domination of the portable music device market is just as guilty of trying to wring every last dollar out of the consumer as Microsoft, the only difference is Apple does it by putting it in a pretty package and preempting criticism by airing ads that paint Microsoft as the bad guy.

When I see Apple pulling shenanigans like this, I’m only asking that some of the Apple fan-boys take off their rose-colored glasses and acknowledge that their beloved company is not infallible and desires to make a profit just as much as Microsoft, even if that means micromanaging their product line to such an extent that prices are artificially high for accessories.

Now, I am no Microsoft fan-boy. I have endured many reinstalls of Windows due to various problems, but I keep coming back to the OS and to Microsoft. Why? Because I can find oodles of free stuff. Photo editors, video editors, office suites, anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewalls, media players…I could keep going. I love that I can find tons of free software for Windows so that if I really wanted to, I could accomplish all my basic computing needs without every paying a penny beyond the basic cost of the OS. I have also started dabbling with Ubuntu which eliminates the cost of the OS completely and opens up a whole new computing world.

In conclusion, I hope that Apple does not choose to start incorporating this into their other future devices. The idea that Apple wants to try and control the type of headphones their consumers use is a good way to turn many people away from the brand. As a recent Ipod adoptee, I hope this is not the case as I admire Apple’s leadership in the market and would like to see them continue to put out innovative products without feeling the need to micromanage consumers use of their devices to such a level that even the headphones have to be “Apple Approved.”

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One thought on “The Apple Tax

  1. What about Apple fan-girls? 🙂 Seriously, though, you’re absolutely right about an Apple tax. I’m frankly surprised about this. They had a special headphone jack that was deeper than normal for the original iphone and then got rid of it for the iphone 3g because of complaints… And on the free sw comment, there is free sw for the mac, too, you just have to know where to look. Open source sw, in general, is becoming a larger movement, thankfully for two reasons: one, people are not buying software like they used to and two, we’re doing more on the web, so why should be be buying software anyway?

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