Sunday, 6 November 2016

Is Apple’s Dongle Price Cut An Act Of Contrition Or Desperation?


Apple has slashed the prices on all of its USB-C dongles in the wake of the MacBook Pro launch and the backlash it faced for making life more difficult for professional users. The deal, which lasts until the end of the year makes the Apple adapters as cheap as no-brand third party versions – a very good deal indeed if you have a device with USB-C ports.

Apple intimated that the price cut was to ease the transition to the new technology for its users. I’m not so sure that’s the whole truth. 

Call me cynical if you like, but when Phil Schiller announced the new MBP had the highest pre-order rates of any new professional laptop my initial reaction was that he was trying to polish a turd. Of the three iterations of the professional laptop that have launched over the last deacde or so, only this one has launched into such a buoyant market for Apple. Despite the collapse in the PC market overall, Apple’s sales numbers are still close to their highest ever.

So if the new MBP was anything but a bigger seller than its predecessors it would be tantamount to a disaster. That Schiller had no better news to share (pre-order sales numbers, for example) suggests that the MBP hasn’t got wallets opening in the numbers that Apple hoped for.

Now Apple can’t do much about the Touch Bar (or as a colleague’s Freudian misspelling deemed it ‘the Ouch Bar) but it has done something to mitigate the legacy ports backlash.

That is has chosen to do so some days after the launch of the MBP indicates the level of backlash came as a surprise to Apple's management. If it was always intending on making this move why not announce it at the MBP launch? Why not make the same gesture for MacBook users who have had to pay full price for two generations now? Because MBP pre-orders were far below what Apple was expecting, that's why.

Now whether this backlash will change the way Apple does things in future remains to be seen. It needs to, because the MBP launch seemed to smack of Ivory Towers and sermons from on high.

So whether the price cut is a result of contrition in the face of a vocal backlash, or desperation as a result of poor pre-orders, that it was made at all is a sign of progress in the relationship between Apple and its customers.

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