The iPhone is a luxury. Macs are overly expensive. Apple Watch is an expensive, luxurious fashion gadget. Is Apple all about the luxury market? Yes. And no. Let’s look at luxury as a noun.
1. the state of great comfort and extravagant living. “he lived a life of luxury”
synonyms: opulence, luxuriousness, sumptuousness, grandeur, magnificence, splendor, lavishness, the lap of luxury, a bed of roses, (the land of) milk and honey; informal: the life of Riley “we’ll live in luxury”
Is luxury simply owning the most expensive of anything? Is luxury simply the best of whatever money can buy? Carolina Milanesi takes issue with the iPhone X- which starts at $999- being labels a luxury.
Expensive and luxury are very much intertwined, and they are labels that change slightly depending on what item you are referring to. If you look up the definition of luxury in the Webster dictionary you find that Luxury is
Her list of bullet points are revealing.
- something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary
- an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease
iPhone? Certainly. Mac? Yes. iPad? Of course. Apple Watch? Definitely. But when one looks up the definition of expensive you’ll see what some could describe as defining Apple’s products
- involving high cost or sacrifice
- commanding a high price and especially one that is not based on intrinsic worth or is beyond a prospective buyer’s means
- characterized by high prices
One can make a Watch luxurious by getting a solid gold band, or perhaps the gold Watch Edition. Luxury? Definitely. Or, get a diamond studded iPhone case. Luxury? Sure. But those baubles do not make Apple’s devices luxury or luxurious.
My view has been a simple and straightforward perspective. Apple’s products are affordable luxuries. Almost anyone who can afford a smartphone and a cellphone carrier plan can afford the $349 for an iPhone SE. Yes, some Android-based smartphones are priced lower, but they run mostly the same software as the much more expensive Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Likewise, iPhone SE runs mostly the same applications are iPhone X which can be $1,149.
That’s an affordable luxury because iPhone is considered the premium brand that commands the highest prices, but has a broad line of phones, all of which run the same operating system and applications.
Apple has a similar approach in other product lines.
Few Windows PCs are more expensive than a Mac and most are priced far less. But they run Windows. Macs run macOS and fit snugly within Apple’s famous walled garden ecosystem, which in itself can be labeled an ‘affordable luxury‘ of convenience, privacy, and security.
Let’s pretend there was no iPhone X and that the iPhone 8 Plus was the flagship product. Although starting at $799, $50 more than the launch price of last year’s iPhone 7 Plus, nobody, as far as I am aware, called it a luxury phone. For some reason, there is something about getting to the $1000 price point that gets people to think differently.
iPhone 8 Plus, the successor to last year’s popular but not quite luxurious iPhone 7 Plus, is $949 for the 256GB model. That’s an affordable luxury.
$200 more gets you the so-called luxury model iPhone X with 256GB of storage. If you keep a new phone for three years, the amortized difference between iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X- which carries a few features not found on other iPhone 8 models, including the edge-to-edge screen, Face ID, and more- is $5.55 per month.
See? Affordable luxury.
Apple Watch is another example. Apple Watch Series 1 runs most of the same software as Watch Series 3 with LTE and starts at $249. Affordable? Yes. For those that want the best of the smartwatch models on the market. Watch Series 3 with LTE starts at $399. If you have money and desire, Watch Series 3 with GPS, cellular LTE, and a ceramic case with a non-standard band can approach $1,500. Luxury? Perhaps, but it runs most of the same applications as the entry level model, which I would label as affordable luxury.
That’s Apple’s real niche in technology. Affordable luxuries.