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The T-Mobile One "Unlimited 55" plan is a great one for us older folks. You overlooked that in the article. Also, you didn't compare the prices for adding an extra line for Apple Watch cellular.
I've been using iPhone since v1.0, so I suffered through that horrible first five years of the AT&T exclusive. Never going back to them. Ever.
I had been using T-Mobile prepaid service since 2014. That was $40 a month for unlimited talk, text, and data (5GB a month at LTE speed, the rest in 3G). That was fine for me, until I bought an Apple Watch (cellular) last year.
I switched to the T-Mobile One "Unlimited 55+" service, adding an extra line for the Watch. The base price is $55 a month for unlimited talk, text, data (throttles to 3G after 50GB), Netflix, unlimited video streams (480p), free roaming to Canada/Mexico and a big one for me, unlimited text/data in 210 countries. Base price for the extra line for the Apple Watch is $15 (actually under the 55+ plan any two lines are $70/mo before the auto pay discount, so you can apply it to Apple Watch or not).
I save $10/mo using Auto Pay (direct from bank monthly payments), so my total monthly comes out to $60 for two lines, which is pretty great compared to most.
As far as service coverage, I'm in an location that has both small-urban and semi-rural areas (Boise, Idaho). I've been up here for about four years, and although the coverage was occasionally lacking a few years ago, it's solid and entirely on par with everyone else up here now. The old idea that T-Mobile was behind on coverage is pretty much a thing of the past now.
Finally, I can't say enough about T-Mobile's support and customer service. That is where they really shine. Compared to my experiences with customer service at AT&T, it's like night and day...
Finally, I really like that T-Mobile states the price for the service, and that's the price you pay. No hidden fees or additional charges. I hated how AT&T charged a base price of $80/mo, then added fees and charges galore until it arrived at more like $130/mo for each line... outrageous!
Anyway, I can't recommend T-Mobile enough. Price, service, support, perks... all good. (I'm not affiliated in any way, just a happy customer). If you're over 55, it's pretty hard to beat.
There is gross margin, which, after the crisis period after Jobs' return to the helm stabilized pretty consistently at just about 38% on average, give or take a bit. It's a very consistent Gross, and has been for well over a decade now. They keep their pricing across all their lines (hardware, software, services, etc.) at levels clearly designed to maintain that +/- 38% gross margin. They've been incredibly adept at keeping it there. I was interested in a similar comparison of Net Margins over the same period. How much did the business cost, how much of that steady Gross did they have to spend to keep it all running, and running profitably? How steady are the Net Profits? That, in the end, is a better measure of whether a company is "gouging" or not. Gross is fine, but Net is where the 'bottom line' sits. If a company manages to keep their net always at or above break even (even in slimmer quarters) then they're doing it right. This chart seems to indicate (for the last 5 years, at least) that they are. Scroll down to see a longer list (uncharted) of margins going back to 2006 when they were at or around 10%. Apple was still recovering, helped in part by the iPod, and just before iPhone. Then the magic happened. They've been in the 20-percentile range for most of the past decade. This is before-tax profit, I believe. So not at all gouging, considering they have a pretty specactular global demand. They see more profit in better quarters, and typically razor thin in slimmer quarters (summer), but they aren't in the red, ever. That's where a company should be to remain healthy. https://ycharts.com/companies/AAPL/profit_margin So, after-tax profits in the area of 15% ~ 20%, which is still above average but not exactly gouging, especially with products they can't make enough of for a couple of months after they release. Their services are all pretty reasonably priced, none are at all higher than the market in general. iCloud (I pay $3/mo for the 200GB of storage, which is reasonable, and it's extremely secure), Apple Music @ $100/year is basically the same as Prime's annual. I think the $100 ~ $120 annual for unlimited content access is becoming kind of a standard. The rest, Apple Care has been affordable,, and Apple's support is second to none. You get what you pay for... All to say, if anyone accuses Apple of gouging, that's nonsense. You can only accuse them of making "high end" products, that sport a premium price tag, but also have the quality to match. I know of very few people who kept a Samsung "smart phone" for 5 years without a glitch or the slightest decrease in performance (other than battery life)... I've owned iPhone 1, 3GS, 5S, and now X... I had the 5S for about 5 years, and never a single issue. It performed the same from day to the day I traded it in for the iPhone X. Same is true of my 9 year-old iMac (replaced last year as my main workstation, but still going as an "everyday computer"), my soon-to-be-replaced 5-year old MacBook Pro... Problem-free, running strong, and worth every penny I paid for them. This is why the "premium" is so worth it. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is still lower than all the disposable crap in the PC world. So, is it really gouging because we have to pay a bit more up front? Not when it ends up performing better and costing less in the long run... And that's my big fat 2-cents worth on the topic.
It's important to remember that we don't get to impose our own standards and principles on others. If the Chinese People aren't happy with their government, history shows us that they can and will rise up en masse should things get out of hand there. Most don't really care about having unfettered access to the world. My Chinese friends could care less about "missing Facebook". They have their own equivalents anyway, and feel little restriction on their daily lives. We westerners would find it unbearable, but for them, it's a good kind of normal. Familiar, comfortable, and they enjoy a civil, predictable society... Apple wants to do business in the most populous country in the world. That country happens to be very different from us culturally. I don't think Apple would agree to "snoop ware" being installed from the factory, but they're not going to push back on blocking VPNs and so on. Those are simply not OK in China... What would YOU do? Walk away from a hundred billion in business, or just accept their national policies?
lkrupp said:chasm said:Thanks for this. I know it’s an economic truism that the public broadly thinks of costs as fixed or getting lower over time.
ndnyc said:“Apple isn't interested in dominating any markets. They are interested in producing quality products and services that appeal to their customers.”
Both laughably wrong. Apple absolutely wants to dominate markets... maybe not market-share, per se. Quality products like what? Their keyboards? Their Maps? Their productivity apps/services (Pages, Numbers, Keynote and Cloud)? Music?
The fact is Apple is failing on multiple fronts. And now in the past months, they’ve lost two of their top chip designers. This is the beginning of the end. Time will prove me right.
I've heard all this before. It has basically been a constant thrumming, since right around 1997 when Jobs returned to helm the company... for the following 15 years+, as they approached becoming the most valuable global company in the world, almost daily there were reports of doom & gloom and the failures and imminent collapse of Apple... for over 15 years, continuously!
How is this any different? A company that has grown to over 160,000 employees by 2018 is going to collapse because two chip devs left? Because their Maps app isn't as good as Google's (yet)?
Saying Apple is "failing on multiple fronts" is ludicrous. For every so-called "failure", I can point to a hundred things they're doing well and right. Quite the opposite of "the beginning of the end".
It's funny that as I've read through this thread, I've seen people criticizing Apple for over-diversifying, then declaring them untenable because they basically aren't diverse enough. They diversify specifically to offset potential market weakness in other areas. It's a good thing for a company to do. Apple has always gone after things they think they can improve on. If they can't, they often drop it (like the AirPower Charger). The "thousand no's for every yes" thing at work...
Just one of your examples: they continue to improve Maps. No, it still isn't the best service on the planet. They came very late to that game. You don't build a "Google Maps" type platform overnight, and catching up is hard. Google Maps wasn't really all that wonderful either, the first few years it was out. But it had a 'novelty effect' that bought it lots of early forgiveness. Apple hasn't enjoyed that, nor should they. But Maps is super useful now, and can't be called a "failure" by any measure.
Especially considering it's used more than any other mapping service within the Apple ecosystem. And it works fine! Yes, needed improvements abound, but this, like all of Apple's products and services is constantly improving, incrementally, over time.That's just how they operate across the board. Laying a strong foundation, and building on it over time.
I look at their ecosystem today, compared to the one in place 10 years ago... and really, wow. To say they've been "failing" is again, pretty ludicrous. More projection than reality, I'm afraid.
Just one opinion.