The Cost of Secrecy

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Date: Friday, August 2nd, 2002, 10:48
Category: Archive


Secrecy at Apple carries a cost, or should I say pricing at Apple suffers as a result of secrecy. Due to the high level of security surrounding Apple product development, it is not possible to test user’s perception of pricing prior to product announcements.

The .Mac announcement at Macworld Expo NY is a case in point and it doesn’t help that many of the people setting the price of the service are millionaires. One hundred dollars a year is not trivial to most folks, even if that comes to just pennies a day. Add to that, the fact that most people using iTools already have an email address and storage space with their ISP. It’s a very tough sell to get folks to pay for a service that they already have, more or less. Steve Jobs should have known that the reaction would be stunned silence. I still think they should offer former iTools users the email address without the other services for just $10 a year, otherwise they will be inconveniencing a boat load of loyal customers who will be scrambling to migrate people to new email addresses. I actually use iTools and am looking forward to iCal. It’s worth it to me as a pay service because it is so well integrated into the OS, but those who don’t buy into .Mac may resent having more and more OS X features unavailable to them. Of course, now that I am paying, I will probably be motivated to use all of the storage space.

Similarly, those who purchased OS X a day or a week before the keynote will resent having to shell out full retail. I think pricing Jaguar at US$150 retail and at US$75 as an upgrade would have been more fair. Think about all the folks who purchased X but still boot into 9 to get their work done. I for one have gotten a lot of utility out of 10.1 so buying 10.2 and getting new features and improvements is not an issue for me.

The cube was clearly a fiasco for Apple. It struck me that the cube should have cost the same as an iMac considering it did not include the display. They could have gone with a G3 initially and dropped frills like the touch sensitive power button. I could not imagine them selling in any quantity back when I heard the initial pricing announcement. I understand the need for secrecy, but at least one member of the team setting the prices should be a cheapskate or maybe someone overwhelmed by credit card debt. That would force some perspective on the design team before they add all the bells and whistles and set prices!

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