The price is wrong: Making things up about the iPhone


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Say, kids, if you ever find yourself in the Apple punditry business and you want to make a point about how the company is doing but the facts are inconvenient, just pick different facts. It’s really that easy.

Writing for the Forbes contributor network and household cleanser taste test challenge zone, Stephen McBride sees “The End Of Apple.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Uluroo, Shelby, Peter and Matthew.)

That’s not hyperbole. You’re hyperbole.


Hang on, though, because McBride is about to lay down some cab driver wisdom.

Here I am sitting in a cab in New York City.

Freshly graduated from the Tom Friedman School of Punditry.

I’m headed uptown to Columbia University where we’ll hold the first-ever American Disruption Summit. (You can register to watch for free here.)

The fact I’m pushing a conference in the third paragraph has nothing to do with my outlandish headline and claims about Apple doom! Please, do not be so crass as to suggest such a thing!

The driver and I are talking about the absurd price tag of the latest Apple iPhone.

As the cab casually rolls into the Holland Tunnel to go “uptown.”

He’s shocked when I tell him the cheapest model is $1,149.

People are often shocked when told things that are patently false, yes!

“Who can afford that?” he asks.

Presumably imaginary people who pay imaginary prices for things with imaginary dollars, since this price is nonsense. Here in our Earth 1 reality, however, the starting price for the 2018 iPhone XR is $749.

If you looked at Apple’s sales numbers, you wouldn’t see anything wrong.

Because you are not a clever person who uses cab drivers as a rhetorical device in overwrought columns about Apple in an attempt to push your conference.

In fact, iPhone unit sales peaked way back in 2015. Last year, Apple sold 14 million fewer phones than it did three years ago.

And, yet, somehow managed to make $32 billion more. McBride isn’t having it, though.

In 2010, you could buy a brand-new iPhone 4 for 199 bucks.

In 2014, the newly released iPhone 6 cost 299 bucks.

On contract! Which is an additional cost. McBride must be the kind of person who blithely sells his soul to the devil for a donut today, not caring that he’ll pay for it for eternity.

The truly dumb thing about this whole charade is that the current crop of iPhones are more expensive than those of previous years, just not by nearly as much as McBride pretends they are.

Today the cheapest model of the latest iPhone X costs $1,149!

You keep saying that! But it’s still not true! Exclamation mark!

For what it’s worth, McBride is quoting the price of the 256GB iPhone XS but nowhere in the piece does he explain why he considers that the “cheapest model.” Which is too bad because that explanation would probably have been hilarious. Damn shame.

Cell phone prices have come down roughly 92%. And yet, Apple has hiked its smartphone prices by 500%!

No! It hasn’t! The full starting price of the iPhone 4 in 2010 was $599 (locked). The full price of an iPhone XR without a trade-in is $749, which is a 25 percent increase.

But who cares about facts? We’ve got a conference to advertise!

In November, Apple announced it would stop disclosing iPhone unit sales.

This is a very important piece of information. Investors deserve to know it.

I mean, no other smartphone company releases this information, but Apple should. Because Apple.

Apple’s woes are not primarily caused by iPhones costing too much. It’s much more complicated than that and the causes have already started affecting other companies and may soon have an even broader impact.

McBride dismisses Apple’s recent successes at continuing to make money, then suggests Apple has a problem because it makes so much money off of iPhones.

iPhone generates two-thirds of Apple’s overall sales.

iPhone sales are down!

So? Apple continues to make money.

But it won’t when iPhones sales start falling!

Uhhh… what?

Will Apple Meet Nokia’s Fate?

Just Askin’!™

McBride helpfully provides a chart of Apple’s share price showing its precipitous decline since its peak last fall. For a chilling comparison, he also provides a chart of Nokia’s share price, showing a similarly frightening decline from its peak in 2007.

Of course, the baseline of the Apple chart is $140 per share and the baseline of the Nokia chart is $0 per share but… OMG those lines! They both go down to the bottom of the chart! That certainly looks bad for Apple.

In his bio at his firm’s website, McBride notes:

…to be totally blunt, I’m no fan of classrooms. You can’t learn the really important stuff sitting at a desk.

Maybe. But you might learn how to read a price chart. And isn’t this the same guy pushing a conference at Columbia University?

Look, forget conferences at fancy, highfalutin colleges. You can learn everything you need to know in life in the back of a cab.

Wait, why are we on the New Jersey Turnpike?

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