September 16, 2012

September 16, 2012

10 Things Apple Won’t Tell You Part 2

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Sunday and I hope you are having a safe and great weekend so far. It has been another very busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear and me.

Unless you do not follow news in technology then you know Apple is getting ready to come out with the new IPhone 5 very soon. But did you know that Apple does not like to tell you some things?

From customer service to app safety and even how its devices affect our relationships, here are 10 things Apple won’t likely tell you about its products and its business. Yesterday, I started this blog with the first five items and today I will let you know the last of what those things are:

6. “The iPhone is overpriced—even compared to the iPad.”

The iPhone costs hundreds of dollars less than the iPad, but Apple has much higher profit margins for the phone than the tablet, experts say. Here’s how it breaks down: Apple earned gross margins of up to 58% on its United States iPhone sales between April 2010 and March 2012 and margins of just 23% to 32% on the iPad, according to a statement filed by Apple earlier this month as part of its patent battle with Samsung Electronics Co. It costs Apple $215 to make the 32GB iPhone 4S—less than a third of the original retail price, according to technology research company IHS iSuppli. But it costs $375 to make the 32GB version of the new iPad, around half the retail price. As a result, consumers are paying a bigger premium on iPhones than the iPad, says technology consultant Jeff Kagan. “Is the iPhone expensive? Yes,” Kagan says. “It is overpriced? Yes.” Consumers think they pay a cheaper price for iPhones as wireless carriers absorb two-thirds of the original retail price, he says. However, customers who keep their iPhone and renew their contract after the initial two-year contract expires are paying a premium for using an old phone, he says.

7. “Don’t be fooled by our soft sell.”

When Carmine Gallo recently walked into the glass-fronted Apple Store in Pleasanton, Calif., the “concierge” wanted to talk to his two children about what Disney movies they could get on the iPad. Only after he had charmed both children did the employee turn to Gallo. “It was an extremely artful piece of salesmanship,” says Gallo, author of “The Apple Experience.” Art dealer James O’Halloran had a slightly different experience in the San Francisco Apple store when he approached a member of the Genius Bar brandishing a broken iPod. “It will make a cool paperweight,” the Genius Bar member told O’Halloran before promptly offering him a new one.

These two stories illustrate two things, experts say: Apple’s staff knows if children want Apple’s products their parents will want them too—and they never bombard customers with tech-talk. “They always start off by asking you about your lifestyle and your needs,” says Martin Lindstrom, author of “Brandwashed.” “They emotionally engage you so it’s harder to say no to their products.” Other electronic stores focus on price and technical specifications, but are slowly taking a cue from Apple Stores, he says.

The gleaming, futuristic store designs are another important piece of Apple’s retail puzzle, experts say. “Entering these spectacular, fantasy retail environments helps people forget about the outside world,” says Tina M. Lowrey, professor of marketing at the University of Texas in San Antonio. “They worship the product like they would in a church.” The approach appears to be working: Apple is the top seller per square foot among major U.S. chains, according to a 2012 survey by market researcher Asymco. For the four quarters to August 2011, Apple sold $5,626 per square foot worldwide versus $330 for mall-based stores, the survey found.

8. “Our features are falling behind.”

Some consumers want Apple’s iPhone to follow the Android market’s lead by bringing out bigger screens. Nancy Batchelor, a teacher who lives in Washington D.C., recently gave up her iPhone because it was too small. “I seriously can’t read anything on that phone,” she says. “I feel old and, worse, large-thumbed.” (She’s 42.) Batchelor has plenty of other options to choose from: Motorola Droid Razr Maxx and HTC’s One X both have a 4.3-inch display. And Samsung’s SII has a 4.8-inch display—dwarfing the iPhone’s 3.5 inches. She’s not alone. According to review site “3.5 inch screens just don’t cut it anymore.”

Five years after its launch and several upgrades later, some analysts say the iPhone is starting to feel dated. iPhone users can often be found trying to recharge their batteries in Starbucks, says Yung Trang, president of Samsung’s new SIII has a removable battery, allowing consumers to carry a replacement. What’s more, fans point out that the SIII battery has more power than the iPhone—more than 10 hours talk time versus eight hours for the iPhone on 3G. “The Samsung SIII is the best iPhone competitor in the space today,” says technology analyst Kagan. In many respects, it’s even better than the iPhone.” For big talkers, the Razr has 21.5 hours of talk time.

One of the biggest new features on the iPhone 4S—the voice-activated search engine Siri—has not always lived up to customers’ expectations. Siri answers questions correctly 68% of the time, according to recent research by Piper Jaffray. (An Apple spokeswoman recently told the media: “Siri is one of the most popular features of iPhone 4S and customers love it.”) That said, Apple continues to have one big advantage over the competition, say experts: The cool factor. Plus, it has yet to release the iPhone 5, which is expected later this fall. But tastes can change quickly. In fact, Samsung recently overtook Apple to become the number one smartphone vendor by volume, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

9. “We’ll hook you for life.”

Storing digital content like movies, music and books on Apple’s “ecosystem”—the company’s compatible suite of hardware and software—may lock in customers for life. There’s good reason Apple offers 5GB of memory free on its iCloud virtual storage system, analysts say. “Once you’re in, it’s a one-stop shop,” Fino’s Eisenberg says. Apple’s iCloud is different from other companies’ virtual storage systems for one critical reason: It works exclusively with other Apple products, while Google’s Cloud will work with an HTC Thunderbolt, Motorola’s Droid or any device using Google’s operating system, he says. Meanwhile, there are a range of third party clouds like Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Dropbox that allow customers to store files from Microsoft, Android or iPhone.

It’s also difficult to transport digital files from iTunes to a third-party device like the Kindle Fire. (Though it’s not impossible: There are other third-party apps like iSyncr and Double Twist designed to make the transition easier.) Experts say iTunes has other sticky features, too. By rating your library of music on iTunes, for instance, the automatic DJ will shuffle songs and play your favorite music more often. But the feature is not transferrable to non-Apple devices. Tech-culture writer Damon Brown says he has rated hundreds of hours worth of songs on iTunes, but will lose those ratings if he transfers to a Kindle Fire. “I made a commitment to shop with Apple,” he says, “and now I’m stuck with it.”

10. “Our fans don’t care if we screw up.”

Of course, many customers are happy to be part of Apple’s global community: A Facebook page, “Fans of Apple,” has over 935,000 members. And when it comes to controversy about or criticism of the company, experts say the company’s loyal fan base often have a blind spot. Lowrey, the marketing professor, compares Apple’s cult-like following among some users to bikers who own Harley-Davidson motorcycles. “In the old days these groups didn’t have any way to communicate with each other except in person,” she says. “But today there are online communities that rally around brands.”

Now you know the rest about Apple so at least you know what to expect when getting their products. Hope you have a beary safe and great Sunday!

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab