The Low End Mac Mailbag

The iPhone Is a Premium Product, Error in AT&T iPhone Plan, and the Value of an Old Quadra

Dan Knight - 2007.07.24

The iPhone Is a Premium Product

Reginald W writes:

Dan,

I'm in Canada, so I don't have access to the iPhone, but I'm following things in the US. Some comments on your article and others I've seen on the Net. If you want to make it into an article, gopher it. Dunno on a title, will let you decide to read and trash, or to post it.

Any company makes a product to sell to the public that hopefully the public will be able to use and like better than the competition. If it is priced better, if it is more usable or more durable or more effective or more functional and the public likes it better, it sells and the company wins. If the public doesn't like it or the competition sells something that is good enough, then the company might lose or it simply retries, as does the competition, if they are watching.

Systems are more than a single product, they are a series or family of products that can work together, to do more than a single product or to be variations of the product to be used in different circumstances. They may all do the same thing, but do it differently. Cars and trucks are similar, can do different things, but use the same roads.

Most of what I see are a lot of whining about how the iPhone is not this, it's not that, it forces me to change something that I've chosen to do! How terrible!

Forced to AT&T:

For Apple to get the best bang for its development dollar, going with a single carrier (Cingular/AT&T - remember Verizon turned it down) is better, as they only have to develop a single radio system (GSM vs. CDMA) and support only one carrier. Apple being new in the phone business can not afford to support multiple carriers or multiple radios until they get more experience in this new (for Apple) product line.

The only other GSM option is T-Mobile, and from what I have read, it's coverage area is minimal, so even if you could take an iPhone to T-Mobile, everyone would be complaining about the lack of coverage area more so than they are complaining about ATT. The fact that some people will have to change carriers to use an iPhone is just the cost of admission to the iPhone game.

Soooo Expensive:

What part of "Apple is a premium product provider" do you not understand? Apple has never been and likely never will be a lowest cost product supplier. They have tended to the higher side, and only in the last while have they provided better bang for the buck for consumers in their various product lines. The products they sell, for the most part, are higher quality, last longer, are simpler and end up being more functional due to not including everything including the kitchen sink, the bathtub and hot tub.

For those on a budget, get over it. Save your money to buy it or buy something different. Enough people will pay for the functionality that Apple will sell lots. Over time, the price will decrease on used equipment. Apple tends to have specific price points that they stick with, introducing newer product at the same price points so the older equipment retains its value and sinks only when new models are introduced. This is the iPod model, and it is only after several revisions did Apple bring out different form factors to the iPod at different price points. I don't see Apple doing it any different for the iPhone.

It's first Generation and it doesn't include....:

Yeah, so? Everything starts as new, as first generation. What part of new product don't you understand? What part of Apple makes things simpler by not including everything (see above) don't you understand?

Apple says they will be doing updates to the iPhone over time; this is why they are accounting for each iPhone sold over the 24 month contract of the iPhone. Leopard will add considerably to the functionality of the iPhone when it is released, as Apple adds all the improvements to their OS and Server. To have functionality in the iPhone that can not connect to their current OS is stupid. Think of the bitching that would occur when you can't actually use the functionality of the iPhone.

Think of the buzz that Apple will generate when they add features to the iPhone, hopefully at no cost to the iPhone user (other than them having to buy Leopard for their Mac most likely). I've owned a number of cell phones and have never had an update to the phones I've owned. I'm not really aware of many updates to cell phones, although I am sure they exist if I were to really look. Most phones are carved in silicon and don't change until a new model is released. Apple promises the iPhone will be different, and I believe them.

Activation blues:

For the first time, a cell phone can be activated at home, at your time, at your leisure. No more waiting while the sales rep is in the back doing whatever it is they do. If they sold a half million iPhones over a weekend, how long would you be waiting for each sales rep to get it activated? From what I've seen and heard, the system for activation worked superbly and only those special circumstances (old phone number from ages ago gone through several carriers to now switch to AT&T, different address from current address, switching carrier, etc.) were the problem areas. Anyone getting a new phone number or already on AT&T's network (for the most part) breezed through activation. This says a lot about the integration between Apple and AT&T and one of the reasons for limiting sales to a single carrier.

No Rebate from the carrier:

Boo hoo! I wanted it cheaper! Initial cost is one thing, monthly costs are different. Look at the total cost comparing a cheaper phone and its voice/data plan and do a full comparison over the term of the contract. "You can pay me now or you can pay me later" applies especially to cell phone pricing. There is no free lunch, and the consumer pays the costs one way or the other. Some costs just don't get noticed as much, but from what I see, I'd love to have the iPhone pricing plan here in Canada!

Either way, the carrier is going to charge as much as they can for what they provide, governments are going to tax as much as they can, and people will still use phones to communicate. Either buy it or buy something different or nothing at all. No one is holding a gun to your head to buy it.

Edge is too slow!

Yeah, so what? I've not really used the Internet on my phone 'cause my carrier mega-charges for it - and it sucks on my phone anyway. Looking at the iPhone Internet access, it rocks! Considering what battery life would be with a higher speed network, the bitching would just change from slow to bad battery life. That is just life.

As you stated, AT&T has increased the speed of EDGE with the rollout of the iPhone. Considering they have added a half million or so customers, don't you think they will increase that rollout to keep their customers happy? It does take time though, and going into new areas to expand their coverage does take time, but with an increase in customers, it also makes it possible to afford to do so. Cell towers and the infrastructure to connect them together is not cheap. Didn't AT&T just buy a smaller GSM carrier around the time of the iPhone launch to increase their coverage area? Perhaps they will buy T-Mobile and take over their territory as well, which would eliminate the idea of taking the GSM iPhone to another US carrier as well.

When Apple goes into the European market, it may have to change the radio in the iPhone to accommodate the local markets there. Is this any different than different power supplies and power cords? Every market it slightly different in how it operates, the laws that apply, the technology that is used in those areas. It may use the current iPhone and see how well it flies there or perhaps there will be newer chips that allow for lower power consumption on the G3 cell networks or other tricks that Apple might be able to implement after analyzing their US rollout to see what works, what doesn't.

It won't work with my Exchange server:

Sure it does, if you configure it properly, but your server security might be less, but then it is Windows after all. It is a consumer device, not a dedicated business device. Don't buy it if you need to connect in a certain way to a certain server or need to have an admin be able to cancel your phone/data if you lose your phone. Use one of the approved phones and go on with your life. Simple.

No other software/games/SDK:

Its a new product, for Pete's sake! It's been less than a month that it has been released. Leopard isn't here yet to add extra bells and whistles, and Apple is not going to jeopardize the functionality of their new product so you can have a game of Pac Man or Tetris on your cell phone. Tough!

Apple will be criticized for how the phone operates, how it interacts with the user and with carrier, and how long it's battery lasts. Keeping the iPhone system running smoothly for a new product line is important for Apple. It will do everything in its power to keep the experience good for the consumer and the carrier to limit any damage to Apple. Perhaps in a year, they will be able to offer a SDK for developers and other programs will become available but for the moment, what you see is what you get.

I can't buy a song with only the phone/I can't add my own ringtones/I can't....:

Designing and building any product is based upon decisions on what to include and on what to leave out. The iPhone is no different, and there are lots of likely reasons for each. Buying songs on the phone turns it into a computer and different than being an iPod, thus song licensing is going to differ. DRM requires a lot more power, and Fairplay would have to be written to run on the iPhone rather than being limited to what iTunes allows to be transferred, thus keeping the iPhone simpler.

Ringtones are likely a licensing issue that may get resolved by Apple or by someone hacking the iPhone to allow different songs to be used.

As stated above, people don't like to change. But change happens every day. The iPhone itself is a huge change from other phones, but people tend to like new toys when it benefits them. If the iPhone doesn't work for you (too expensive, too slow, I don't like AT&T, no 3G, it doesn't have....) then don't buy it; it is as simple as that. Go buy a different phone that works for you. It is your choice, and moaning and whining and bitching about not being able to have everything sounds like a three year old to me. But then, maybe that's just me saying "tough. It's not the be-all, end-all item for everyone. Deal with it. Buy or don't buy or wait for it to change. Either way, bitching about it is unlikely to produce any immediate results."

A lot of what I've seen is whining from those hoping to generate traffic on their websites or who have a bias against Apple. Most everyone likes the iPhone for what it can do over the competition, except for those competitors.

Would I buy one? Love to, but it's not available here, and who knows when it will be available. The iPhone name is currently used by another company in Canada offering VOIP. Rogers is the only GSM carrier in Canada, and their data plans are exorbitant, as are the CDMA competitors (Telus and Bell Canada). I use a phone as a phone, and I want a simple phone for what I do. Price comes into the equation, but I won't complain about it being too costly. It is the price they charge, and I'll either pay it or not.

While I am a long time Apple fan, I'm not a fanatic. I'll buy it if I need it, I'll pay a premium if it is a premium product and I can justify the product and the premium. Otherwise, I'll choose the commodity product and just live with it.

Reginald W

PS. I'm a long time Apple user (Apple ][+ with a 4-digit serial number in 1979, Mac 128 summer 1984, worked in three Apple dealerships (sales and tech support, mostly Apple) and three schools/school boards (tech support, mostly Apple) as well as doing on-site service/support (Mac and Windows) by myself for a number of years. I've gotten out of the computer field and only look after my own machines and a few family and friends now, but I still keep an eye on things to see what might help me in my current endeavors.

Reginald,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The iPhone is indeed a premium product, and for brand new software from a new player in the mobile phone industry, Apple has done a marvelous job. It's only going to get better for us as time goes on.

Dan

Error in AT&T Plan for iPhone

Tim Harbison says:

Regarding the statement in the article named in the subject line: "I think the basic 450 minute plan with unlimited Internet access is a decent value at US$60, especially as all calls to and from AT&T users (wireless or land line) are free."

I'm not sure where you got the impression that calls to AT&T landline users are free. Under the plan, mobile to mobile calls to other AT&T subscribers are free. Calls to land lines, be they AT&T or another carrier, use up your anytime (or weekend, as appropriate) minutes.

Tim,

I was under the impression that AT&T Unity Plan applied across the board; that service treats all calls to AT&T customers - wireless and land line - as no charge calls. Checking their website, I see this is not the case. I have corrected the article.

Dan

Value of an Old Quadra

After I suggested she boot from a floppy or System CD and running HD SC Setup to wipe her hard drive, Carol D'Agostino writes:

On second thought, my Mac has a CD drive and I am floppyless. Tossed them all. There's no other way? Sorry for being such a bother.

Carol

Carol,

You have to boot from something: a floppy disk, a hard drive, or a CD-ROM. Your final option is to use an external SCSI hard drive.

First, copy the System Folder from your Quadra's hard drive to the external, and then open and close the System Folder on that drive. This will "bless" the new System Folder. Also be sure to copy HD SD Setup to the external drive.

Next go to the Startup Disk control panel, select the external drive, and restart the computer. It should boot from the external drive. Then run HD SC Setup to wipe your internal hard drive.

Dan

Excellent. I'm sure this will do it. Thanks.

Is there a market for the Quadra 610 or an Apple LaserWriter 320 printer, and a full page Radius black and white monitor? I was going to offer them on freecycle.org, but it seems as though there may be a collector interest in the Quadra. I saw a recent market value for $375, which seems high for an old computer. Any thoughts?

I appreciate you helping me figure out this puzzle.

Thanks again.

Carol

Carol,

That $375 price is very outdated, and there's nothing to make the Q610 a collectable. I can't even find them selling on eBay, and one dealer I found who lists them has a $30 price on the computer. For a private sale, I think you'd be fortunate to get $50 for the whole setup - computer, monitor, keyboard, mouse, and printer.

Dan

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Dan Knight has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. Mailbag columns come from email responses to his Mac Musings, Mac Daniel, Online Tech Journal, and other columns on the site.

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