Steve Jobs' announcement to give $100 back for iPhone buyers since 6/29 leaves a less than pleasing impression in my mind of the unfolding of the new iPhone price.
$100 Apple credit to buy something else. Sure, I can buy something small or partial with that. It's not the whole $200 back, and it's not a cash return. eh. whatev.
eh? whatev? If I were Steve Jobs, that's exactly the kind of mentality I don't want to hear from my most passionate consumers and early adopters. I'd rather hear someone say, "I don't like your stuff at all" or "I LOVE your stuff" than apathy.
What did Steve Jobs (and Apple) do wrong? They shortchanged their early adopters. The people who camped out and stood in line, checked Apple's site compulsively to see which stores were sold out, and blogged about the experience. When my colleague, Sam, popped into my office yesterday and told me the news, I was like, what?. Why? And then, the most catastrophic thought: I shouldn't have bought it.
I was too compulsive. I got caught up in the hype. I thought it was too cool.
To judge the iPhone by the price is the wrong way to judge. But that is what Apple has done in too short a time from product introduction. They put in consumers' minds that the iPhone should be valued by price ($200 less!!), and not by experience. If you were the CEO of Apple, would you rather have someone buy the iPhone based on price, or based on wanting it as a revolutionary gadget? And wouldn't you want someone to save up for it, as Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had done for his chocolate bar, than buy it because it was cheaper?
Cheaper, money back, mass market product. Doesn't sound like the Apple I know and have come to admire. Apple products are clean, simple, expensive. They're items you would save up your money for. And to benchmark the iPhone against a 70-something percent market share iPod is not the right way to do it. You don't rush mass-market reach by price. You reach it by desire and product excellence.
And equally important, you don't want to unpleasantly surprise your aficionados and early adopters, because it reduces passion.
Last week, I hiked Half Dome and took my iPhone along. It was a strenuous 13-hour hike. Reaching the top, having full reception after being in Yosemite "no reception" Valley, being able to snap a few pictures and send them off to my best friends, all via my iPhone,... now that's an experience I won't forget. The kind of things technology can do to make you go wow, and change your behavior (the first thing I do when I wake up is check my e-mail on my iPhone, I drive listening to my iPhone podcasts, the iPhone has replaced my point-and-shoot camera)... those are the things you want your customers to think about. You don't want to talk about price, at least not so early, because that's just a number versus an experience. Something quantifiable vs. something qualifiable. Go for the latter, and go for long-term retention of passionate consumers.
For now, I have to forget that my iPhone experience is, with the refund, an additional $50 charge for July, and another $50 for August. I guess I'll forget about that in the long run. eh. whatev.