Yglesias Cast Out of Appleworld

Matt YglesiasThis is just sad. I’ve been reading Matt Yglesias for a long time and one thing I know (And like!) about him is that he’s an iconoclast. Just this morning he was making what I thought a very weak but iconoclastic argument against fiscal stimulus. But when it comes to computers, I guess he just has to be one of the gang.

Yesterday, he wrote an article complaining about the fact that Apple is keeping its products unreasonably expensive because of unreasonably high profit margins. I’m not sure he’s right. The main problem I have with Apple products is their snob appeal. There are markets where higher prices increase demand. It is certainly possible that if Apple started selling their products at more reasonable prices, they would lose customers who wanted Apple products because only the “cool” people have them. Regardless, Yglesias made a totally reasonable argument.

But the Apple devotees (the worst aspect of Apple snob appeal) came after him. And rather than just ignore it as he usually does when people make cogent, much less ridiculous, points against him, he wrote:

This gets to be touchy emotional terrain for some people, so I want to be clear. I bought an iPhone the first week it was released. I own an iPhone 5 and an iPad 3 and a MacBook Air and a Thunderbolt Display and an Apple Wireless Keyboard and an Apple Wireless Trackpad. I’m not an Apple-basher and I don’t want the company to “be like Dell” or “be like Samsung.” But one of the oddities of the increasingly partisan tech commentary world is that somehow Apple’s customers have become cheerleaders for high prices and giant profits. That’s odd. As a fan of Apple products, I’d like them to be cheaper so I can buy more!

Really everybody: I’m one of you! Don’t cast me out! I love love love Apple! Honest I do!

It’s just sad.

Afterword

There is a serious point that Yglesias is getting at: Apple could make huge inroads into the computer market if they, say, cut their prices by 20%. There is another way to look at the situation, though. Apple could use all of its profits to actually, you know, do some R&D. The company spends a shockingly small amount of money on technological innovation. Apple seems to think it can get by forever on its branding and packaging. I think not, and so do a lot of other people. Apple stock is down, even though they continue to make a lot of money.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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