Is $1,000 iPhone X a bar­gain of his­toric pro­por­tions?

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS - Kar­lin Lilling­ton

So, as was widely pre­dicted, the new iPhone X is to cost a whop­ping $1000. To be pre­cise, the hand­set will cost $999. Be­cause, you know, if Ap­ple charge one buck less than $1000, peo­ple will be so much less likely to no­tice that it ba­si­cally costs a grand, and be more likely to queue for three days in the rain out­side their lo­cal Ap­ple Store to buy one.

To be frank, Ap­ple missed a trick here. They could have gone for $999.99 and the very same peo­ple who would re­coil in hor­ror at a thou­sand bucks would con­sider the iPhone X a bar­gain at just a penny less and Ap­ple could have pock­eted the ex­tra dosh, which adds up when you are talk­ing about mil­lions of pur­chases.

Then there’s be a few mil­lion more to al­low rest in an ac­count offshore un­til Trump de­cides to fol­low the usual US pat­tern of 1) mak­ing a big fuss about the tril­lions in multi­na­tional offshore fund and 2) an­nounc­ing a spe­cial ‘one-off’ ar­range­ment of the type that hap­pens ev­ery 10 to 15 years, like clock­work, which al­lows said multi­na­tion­als to ‘repa­tri­ate’ that offshore cash at a much lower US cor­po­rate tax rate than nor­mal. Then all the multi­na­tion­als start sav­ing up again in offshore ac­counts for the next “one-off’ repa­tri­a­tion, which we’ll see around 2030.

At any rate, the price of the iPhone X (the X is pro­nounced ‘ten’ and not like a film rat­ing) seemed to be get­ting all the ini­tial head­lines af­ter the launch on Tues­day in the new Steve Jobs The­ater inside Ap­ple’s gleam­ing dough­nut-shaped head­quar­ters in Cu­per­tino.

But let’s be fair here: $1000 isn’t all that much to pay for a mo­bile phone. . No re­ally, it isn’t. But thanks to Moore’s handy, wal­let-friendly Law, how soon we have all for­got­ten that a grand would have been pretty darn cheap for a mo­bile hand­set when the very first one went on sale way way back in 1984.

The iPhone X is a bona fide bar­gain com­pared to that very dis­tant rel­a­tive, the Mo­torola Dy­naTAC 8000X (what is it about the let­ter X that gets mo­bile mar­ke­teers so ex­cited?). That mo­bile ne­an­derthal cost — wait for it — $3,995.

Ap­par­ently, ac­count­ing for in­fla­tion in the in­ter­ven­ing years, that would be $9,882.39 in 2017 (ac­cord­ing to the dol­lar­times.com cal­cu­la­tor). Yes, you could buy nearly 10 (or is that ‘X’) iPhone X’s for the same price you would have got just one measly 8000X for in 1984.

Plus, you have to con­sider that all you got for your lousy four grand (be­sides change back for some hair gel for your 80s Du­ran Du­ran-ish quiff) was a hefty beige plas­tic brick. You could pur­chase a plas­tic cover and big belt clip ac­ces­sory, be­cause there was no way, ever, that your ‘mo­bile’ phone was go­ing to fit into a brief­case, much less a pocket. Fun fact: this very phone was the be­he­moth that first earned early mo­biles the nick­name ‘brick’, be­cause of its size and weight.

At three-fourths of a kilo in weight, and 25 cm in height be­fore you in­clude the long pro­trud­ing an­tenna (an­other 17cm), this was a mon­strous mul­ti­task­ing de­vice that could dou­ble as a weight for when you felt like some on-the-go arm curls.

And to think that peo­ple now con­sider the orig­i­nal, now 10 year old iPhone to be ‘bulky’ at just over a cen­time­tre thick and all of 135 grams in weight.

And you over there, com­plain­ing about your iPhone’s bat­tery life and talk time? Why, the 8000X took 10 hours —TEN HOURS — to fully charge. And then, af­ter all that wait­ing, your talk time was 30 min­utes — or about the amount of time you’d spend on hold th­ese days wait­ing to dis­cuss your cur­rent billing plan with your mo­bile op­er­a­tor.

That said, the 8000X did have a sin­gle line, red-let­tered LED dis­play (so HAL!) and it held 30 num­bers in its mem­ory. You may mock, as that’s just a frac­tion of the con­tacts we have in our mo­biles nowa­days.

But back in 1984, most of us had that many num­bers com­mit­ted to mem­ory (re­mem­ber mem­ory, as in brain?), as op­posed to to­day, when I don’t even know my mother’s or broth­ers’ or part­ner’s num­bers off by heart.

In­stead, I am held hostage to my iPhone con­tacts list, even were I to be run over by a bus and rushed to the emer­gency room (“Next of kin? Just let me check my iPhone, doc­tor”).

So frankly, you should all stop com­plain­ing. Just fork out that grand — or its Euro equiv­a­lent — and be thank­ful you can stuff this hand­set in your front pocket with­out top­pling to one side un­der the weight, make more than one call on it a day, and recharge it over your lunch rather than night’s sleep-time.

Hon­estly, folks. You clearly all lack the his­tor­i­cal in­sight to view the iPhone X as the costly bar­gain it re­ally is.

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