Are iPad/iPhone buyers suckers?

Summary:Apple hardware has always commanded a premium price.

Matt Baxter-Reynolds

Matt Baxter-Reynolds

Yes

or

No

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Best Argument: No

67%
33%

Audience Favored: Yes (67%)

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

There's not so much difference

Matt Baxter-Reynolds: Apple's devices are beautifully made and executed. They always feel valuable, and are often highly desired.

But earlier this month when I bought a gold iPhone 5s to replace my Nexus 4 , I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd replaced a $300 device with a $1,000 one.

Not so long ago, Apple was the only game in town when it came to buying something that was good. Now, with Android Jelly Bean and good devices from Google and Samsung, there's a clearer split in the market.

To me, Apple is like Porsche, and the Nexus and Samsung devices are like buying Fords. Yes, you'll get a better experience in the "Porsche", but there's not so much difference these days between buying one of these and buying a good "Ford".

Suckers who want something that works

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: With a raft of new Apple products having gone on sale over the past few weeks, some people are asking a question: Are iPad and iPhone buyers 'suckers'?

Why exactly are they suckers? Suckers because they spend their hard-earned cash on products that deliver on the promises they make? Suckers because they buy a backed by the ability to return it for whatever reason for a limited period? Suckers because they want a well-engineered product that's reliable and easy-to-use? Suckers because they want a product that comes with regular free updates to the operating that brings with them new features?

A sucker because I want something that works?

If that's the case then yes, I'm a sucker. I'm a sucker for a good product. However, if the insinuation is that I'm a sucker because I'm spending money on a product when I could get something cheaper, then let me remind you of an old adage; buy cheap, buy twice.

The Rebuttal

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Nice to see you again

    Debaters: Are you ready to battle over Apple's pricing?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Ask away

    I'm ready

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    I'm ready

    Let the games begin.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Price tags

    Explain to me why you think Apple doesn't or does deserve a premium price.

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    It's better and deserves it

    I believe Apple totally deserves its premium pricing. They build aspirational products and offer the antithesis of the box-shifting mentality exhibited by the vast majority of the rest of the industry. They're also a fashion brand, and part of the theatre of fashion is a big price tags.

    But the point is that once where Apple was the only game in town, they are now not. Louis Vuitton make aspirational bags, but Louis Vuitton bags are not the only way to tote your stuff around.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    Apple doen't deserve it

    Apple doesn't 'deserve' a premium price any more than any other company does. The reason Apple commands a premium price is that the company sidestepped the race to the bottom that other computer, smartphone and tablets makers became engaged in. It kept prices and margins high, and justified that by delivering a quality product.

    On top of that Apple provides customers with a raft of retails stores where they can try out products before buying them, and get advice on what products suit their needs. Also, the stores act as a point of call when things go wrong.

    Apple makes products, it keeps its product line up clear and simple, it makes the pricing easy to understand, and it makes these products available both online and in physical stores.

    So far it seems to be a winning strategy for the company.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Apple over Android?

    Do you think Apple's ecosystem justifies a higher price relative to Android?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Why cheat yourself?

    No -- but this is not something we see anyway. The job of an ecosystem is to act as a conduit for value created by others. If these were normal stores, knowing you could buy a movie from Store A for $20, whereas Store B was selling them for $10 -- well, there would have to be a pretty compelling reason to choose Store A.

    You really would be a sucker if you bought a more expensive device just to spend more money at the store.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    Your choice: Cost or quality

    I use both iOS and Android devices, and as such I spend a lot of time trawling the apps stores buying and downloading apps. In my experience, Apple's App Store offers better quality apps that Google Play, and is also better curated and organized. Even downloading the identical app for both iOS and Android reveals a huge difference in quality between the offerings for the platforms.

    While there's no doubt that Android is the platform to go for if you are looking for cheap or free apps – even identical apps are sometimes cheaper for Android than they are for iOS – if you want a better range of apps to choose from, then I recommend going for iOS.

    You can either have good quality or cheap, but it seems that you can't have both.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Windows 8?

    How about Windows 8?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    No difference

    I don't think the platform really makes a difference.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    It's just a slowdown

    Windows 8 matters a lot to the PC ecosystem, and to Microsoft, which is reliant – in part at any rate – on the PC market churning over every few years. And with so many predictions circulating that the PC era is over, this must be cause for concern at Microsoft HQ.

    However, reports of the death of the PC are greatly exaggerated. What's happening is not that the PC industry is dying, but instead it is slowing down, and people are making their old PCs last longer. And instead of spending their money on PCs, instead they are spending it on smartphones and tablets.

    Love Windows 8 or hate it, one undeniable fact is that as far as being a player in the tablet and app market, it is new and needs time to mature. Right now it doesn't put any pressure on either Android or iOS markets.

    Maybe in a few years

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Best price

    What is your optimum price for a tablet?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    $300

    For me personally, about $300. I like to have a nice screen -- after all, it's the bit you use all of the time, and it's hard to get a nice screen for much less than that.

    Do I think you can get a good tablet for $200? Absolutely.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    Price doesn't matter

    For a working tablet, I'm willing to pay what I might once have paid for a notebook. My current workhorse is the 32GB iPad 4 Wi-Fi + cellular which set me back $729. It's served me flawlessly for almost a year, and thanks to AppleCare warranty it'll last me another couple of years (if I don't replace it).

    I've also got a first-generation Nexus 7, which at $199 is at the cheap end of the spectrum. This runs Android Jelly Bean and it ideal for day-to-day knocking about.

    Will I replace the Nexus 7? Probably, but next time I'll probably go for Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX because I think this is overall a better tablet.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    The best deal?

    What's the best tablet deal going today? How did you arrive at that conclusion?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    The Nexus 7

    It's the reference device built by the company that built the OS -- and in that sense it's just like Apple. It's got a great screen, and an amazing price. From my personal experience, I'd always found Google's customer service to be exemplary too.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    iPad

    Overall, it is the iPad. It's the best combination of hardware, software and ecosystem. And thanks to Apple keeping the older version on the market, it's cheap to own.

    Next up is Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX. Amazon has baked a lot of BYOD features into this tablet, so it should be an interesting device for those looking to flip between work and play.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    iPad mini Retina or iPad Air?

    What's the better deal: iPad mini Retina or iPad Air?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    For work or play?

    It's really hard to call -- I think it comes down to personal preference as to whether you want the larger or smaller screen. If you're looking to use the device primarily for work, I'd choose the iPad Air, otherwise I'd choose the iPad mini retina.

    If you want something smaller, then the iPad mini is the perfect choice. I can do work on my Nexus 7 so the 7.9-inch screen shouldn't put you off unless you're working on a lot of information dense stuff like spreadsheets.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    Depends on screen size

    Since both are essentially identical except for screen size, I'd say it depends on how much of a tablet you want to carry around with you. Personally, I like the 9.7-inch screen on the iPad, and don't find it a hassle to carry around (but then I used to own a notebook with a 17-inch display).

    If you want something smaller, then the iPad mini is the perfect choice. I can do work on my Nexus 7 so the 7.9-inch screen shouldn't put you off unless you're working on a lot of information dense stuff like spreadsheets.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Wi-Fi 802.11ac discount?

    Does the lack of Wi-Fi 802.11ac warrant a discount?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    No, it should be standard

    How you've put that question makes the response hard! 802.11ac offers appropriate advantages in domestic settings where we're seeing an increase of devices per dwelling, and also more Wi-Fi enabled dwellings. In short, more devices crammed into a smaller area. There's is also less interest in wiring dwellings with fixed networking fit. Really, if you're in the market and you can get 802.11ac, you should.

    Does it warrant a discount? No -- manufactures should be encouraged to deliver 802.11ac as standard.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    Not unless you need it

    Not unless you really need 802.11ac, which many people don't. If you really want an 802.11ac tablet and aren't bound to Apple's ecosystem, then I recommend the Kindle Fire HDX.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Are iPad buyers suckers?

    Why are there so many iPad buyers?

    *** EDS: I presume this question reads "If iPad buyer are suckers…" ***

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    It's the only game in town

    Because it's such a great device!

    It's still the only game in town if you want a 8", 4:3 ratio screen. That's the only reason why I still use one rather than a Nexus 7. That screen format offers the best all-round experience for TV/movie watching, gaming, browsing, and email.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    No, quality counts

    Because it was the first tablet to hit the market that had broad appeal. It entered the market in a big way, forced its way into the consciousness of consumers and enterprise alike, and delivered something new but which came with a flourishing ecosystem attached.

    Bill Gates was right when he predicted over a decade ago that there was a market for tablets, he just didn't realize that the market was for an Apple tablet and not a Microsoft one.

    iPad buyers aren't suckers, they are people who are willing to pay a decent price for a quality product.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Looks like a deal

    Does Apple really need to go down market more? The last generation iPad looks like a deal in many ways.

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Why leave money on the table?

    This idea has been doing the rounds for a long time. I used to think they should -- I'm now of a mind that they shouldn't. Why leave money on the table?

    In terms of the last generation iPad looking like a deal -- the iPad has always looked like a deal. It's always been flirting with "cheap".

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    Price cuts are permanent

    Not yet is doesn't. Its products are all selling well, and revenue and profits are rolling in. The problem with going 'down market' too fast is that it's a one-way street. You can cut prices, but you can never again put them back up. This is what PC OEMs in the late 90s failed to realize, and they drove the PC market down to a point where they couldn't make a decent profit any more from selling PCs. This collapse in profit hit quality, innovation, and customer service that in turn had a knock on effect on sales.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Is a premium price possible?

    Can any vendor in the tablet market command a premium price? How?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    Yes, Apple can

    Apple can, by being Apple!

    OK, serious answer. I'm not sure Microsoft can. They tried to position Surface as a premium product against the iPad, and that failed spectacularly. Google has already priced Nexus to the lower end of the market. Any other generalised competition has to go for the lower end -- it's what the customers expect.

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    Yes, Apple does

    Apple does, and Microsoft seems to think that its brand is worth something when slapped onto Surface tablets, but beyond that I think that tablet makers are stuck bottom-feeding for single-digit revenues as far as hardware goes. Amazon seems to have gone for the option of selling the Kindle Fire tablets as cheaply as possible in a hope to make its money back

    When you have a plethora of OEMs all competing against each other with essentially the same product, price becomes the only differentiator. A price war ensues and this unfortunately drives quality and innovation into the dirt.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Piece of Apple pie

    Last question: Do you think Apple customers are locked in?

    Posted by Larry Dignan

    It's a myth

    Not really. I think lock-in is a bit of a myth. So long as there are two alternatives that cover the apps that people need, people can move around.

    Lock-in tends to be more about apps, because it's about what people *do* and hence becomes what they *need*.

    Content lock-in does have an effect, but there will likely always be alternatives to content consumption and hence the effect is minimal. (For example, by an Apple TV to get movies out of your iTunes account; Chromecast to pull the same trick on Google Play.)

    Matt Baxter-Reynolds

    I am for Yes

    Yes, they are

    In as much as a Windows user is locked to Windows, an Android user locked to Android, or an OS X users locked to that platform, yes they are. You could even find yourself locked to Linux.

    It's the nature of platforms.

    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

    I am for No

  • Great Debate Moderator

    Thanks again

    It was another great debate. We post the closing arguments on Wednesday and my choice for the winner will be posted on Thurday. Please read the comments and vote. We'll se you next week.

    Posted by Larry Dignan

Closing Statements

Why pay more

Matt Baxter-Reynolds

Apple showed us the way with the iPhone and iPad. Those two products redefined computing for many of us. The iPhone was innovative in that we could have touch screen technology that was easy to use without fiddly styluses. The iPad was innovative in that it showed us that we could have a powerful computing device for work and play without the complexity.

For a long time, these were the only games in town. Now competition -- primarily from Android -- has enabled us all to enjoy these great innovations without it causing too much pain in our wallets
.

It's your money

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

I'm a big believer is allowing people to spend their money the way they see fit. Just because I prefer tea to coffee doesn't mean coffee isn't right for you, and just because I prefer iOS doesn't mean that Android or Windows Phone or some other lesser-known operating system isn't better for you.

Pick what works for you.

One-size-fits-all is rarely the answer, and this is doubly so in the case of tech. People put their tech to a variety of uses, and have different wants and needs. Some are home users, other commercial or enterprise, and thanks to the growth of BYOD, smartphones and tablets have to adopt multiple personas.

Bottom line, if whatever you spend you money on works for you then that's cool. And whether that's an iPhone, and iPad, or something completely different, it doesn't make you a sucker.

It's the market value

Larry Dignan

This debate was highly subjective and middle ground was highly unlikely. That's what made it fun. I'm a firm believer of free markets. If someone is willing to pay for something then that's the market value. Matt Baxter-Reynolds did nothing to sway that view. At last check, Apple customers were pretty damn happy. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes had the easier argument and delivered it well. He gets the win.

Topics: Great Debate

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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