The (Apple) taxman cometh

Apple changed its idevice connector and now the new iPhone 5, iPod touch and iPod nano can't connect to the millions of 30-pin "dock" cables and accessories littering the planet -- unless you're willing to pay, that is.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor
Apple's newest adapter will drain your wallet at Lightning speed - Jason O'Grady

I have to admit to being a little annoyed. 

I understand that Apple's not a charity and that its first obligation is to its shareholders. But enough is enough.

I've used Apple computers since the original Macintosh 128k and am all too familiar with the "Apple tax" drone. In previous years the Apple tax was absurd, Macs were priced at 2-3x of a similarly spec'd Wintel box. But these days, Apple's computers are more in line with Wintel pricing (witness the $999 MacBook Air) and premiums have shrunk.

Or have they?

I think that it's high time to resurrect that old chestnut known as the "Apple tax." 

While Apple's computer prices are more competitive than they've ever been, Apple's just moved its famous tax to areas that aren't quite as obvious, and it's still there and more expensive than ever

Exhibit A is Apple's ridiculously expensive Lightning to 30-pin adapter (pictured). It's the little dodad that you need to connect your fancy new iPhone 5 or iPod touch or iPod nano to the now-mothballed 30-pin dock connector.

And it costs $29. 

That's right, the adpater that's required to use your new iPhone or iPod with the speaker dock, alarm clock or car interface that you purchased as recently as yesterday will set you back thirty bucks. (That's almost as egregious as Apple's absurdly priced "bumper case" -- a chintzy piece of plastic that Apple whacks you $29 for.)

Apple hates its customers, and its stupid "Lightning adapter" is a classic example of how much. 

It's almost as if Apple's pricing strategy goes like this: figure out what's the absolute maximum that a customer will pay for a given piece of Apple schwag, then add 50 percent. That's the Apple tax at work.

And don't think that Cook, Schiller, Cue or Forestall or their ilk are losing any sleep over it. They get this crap for free! In fact, they probably toss "lightning adapters" out the window of their limos and Rolls Royces on their way to meetings with their stock brokers. Literally laughing their way to the bank! 

First, I want to address the every-other-Apple-dongle-is-just-as-expensive argument. While it's true that all of Apple's other dongles (like the MacBook adapters for video, Ethernet, and HDMI) as similarly priced, a) that doesn't make it right, b) they're not as mission critical as being able to charge your iPhone in your car or on your nightstand. Hell, an arguement could be made that a charged iPhone is a safety device (think about walking alone in a bad neighborhood and whoops, the battery runs out. Then think of your wife or daughter in the same situation).

An iPhone charger is an important accessory. Apple knows this and is knowingly gouging you on the price. I mean, come on! If the thing was $20 (which is still outrageous, by the way) it wouldn't sting nearly as bad. But $30? For a one-inch square piece of plastic?!

And how many of them will you have to buy? I don't know about you but I can probably put my hands on upwards of seven dock connector cables in the immediate vicinity of my house. And that doesn't include the ones in my car, gear bag, and office. Or the half dozen that my wife has. Or the dozen that I've lost over the years.

Don't fool yourself. Don't be naive. Don't be an Apple apologist. Cupertino has spreadsheets on this stuff and knows precisely that the average schlep ends up buying a dozen of their over-priced, proprietary cables and adapters during an iPhone's lifetime - at $20 a pop.

Which is exactly why Apple went with a proprietary new port on the iPhone 5 instead of going with the world-standard microUSB (oh, and yes, there's an expensive adapter for that too!)

It's a slap in the face to customers and shows that Apple doesn't give a rat's ass about you and only wants to squeeze every last dollar out of you and then some. Apple is a big, greedy corporation like every other, and if you think otherwise, you're just drinking the Kool Aid. Apple doesn't care about you a lick. You're a calculation, a line item, a number in a spreadsheet. To Apple, you're a walking bag of money and it won't be happy until it's shaken every last cent out of you.

What about the "Don't like it? Buy something else" arguement? True, no one is putting a gun to my head and forcing me to buy an iPhone 5. But isn't Apple a monopoly? Phil Schiller and Tim Cook just told me that the iPhone 5 is the best and most fully featured smartphone on the market. What else would I buy? A Blackberry?

Well, there's one bright side I guess. At least Apple still includes a power adapter in the iPhone box. Unlike Nintendo, which unbundled the power supply (no joke) in Japanese and European releases of its new 3DS XL.

Will Apple do that next?

UPDATE: Apple briefly offered to include its spendy Lighting to 30-pin adapter with pre-orders for the new iPhone 5 in the UK, as seen in the screenshot below, then removed the offer. This tells me two things: a) Apple considered bundling the adapter (the right thing to do) then removed it, and b) Apple must include the adapter free of charge for everyone that pre-ordered it with that option. Welcome to Lightning-gate.


UPDATE2: Garrison Douglas has created a petition asking for Apple to make the Lightning adapter free to iPhone 5 customers.

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