Steve Jobs has tried to appease angry iPhone buyers who bought the phone early and paid a $200 "cool tax" for the privilege by offering them each $100 Apple store credit. But what's the $100 credit actually worth?First off, $100 doesn't buy you much from the Apple store. Accessories aside, you can walk out with an iPod The iPhone is $200 cheaper, get over itshuffle, that's about it. To make use of that store credit iPhone owners are going to have to spend more cash with Apple - in many cases, a lot more. Personally, I'm just not all that convinced that the people who are angry at having paid over the odds for the iPhone are the kind of people who spend money regularly with Apple. If the credit can be applied to iTunes then that's a different matter, but I'll be surprised if users will be able to use it to buy iTunes gift vouchers because Apple's margins there are much smaller (go on Apple, prove me wrong!). Money talks while a voucher ... well, you can't spell voucher without "ouch," and the ouch comes from having to spend more money to take advantage of it. Also, let's face it, $100 of credit doesn't represent $100 to Apple, it's closer to $50.
Steve Jobs having to issue such a high profile public apology to iPhone customers represents a turning point for Apple. It obviously wasn't planned to give existing iPhone users $100 credit because this would have been announced at the time, so Apple was panicked into making the move by public opinion. By entering into the cut throat smartphone market Apple has expanded its customer base way outside of the solid core of loyalists and the apology proves that the company has been bitten. Apple investors should take note of this dissent because it could signal tougher times ahead for Jobs and the crew.
Personal note: Some have asked me what I think of the price drop and of the reaction to it. My feeling is that customers should take it on the jaw - Jobs is right, technology gets cheaper (look at how the price of the Core 2 Quad processors have nosedived since release). Sure, it's probably bad timing and Apple could have sugar-coated the news a bit or waited a little longer before dropping the price, but they didn't. The iPhone is $200 cheaper, get over it. If you were happy with the price at launch, then what's the problem?
My feeling is that this isn't yet over for Apple and the company might have to work a little harder to make amends and keep the followers happy.