Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Re: The Great Apple Apartheid

My response to Alan, who wrote about Apple ignoring the needs of the poor or ill-connected when needing a fast internet connection for a software update to get iTunes functioning on his new machine.


The demographic that can afford to buy Apple products is the demographic that has a fast internet connection. Apple does not target the poor, at all. Have you ever seen an Apple product priced to compete with cheap products? The only one I can think of is the shuffle, which is a lead-in for getting people to spend money on iTunes.

Alan, you speak of poverty, but people in actual poverty do not buy Apple products. They do not fit; you need to buy the product, and then pay for all the expensive stuff that goes with it – the fast internet connection, the expensive upgrades, the pay-for iTunes downloads. If you live on $100 a month, when are you going to buy into that kind of expenditure? Even the western poor on state benefits are likely to struggle. No, you buy a cheap PC, second or third hand, ideally with some linux flavour on it which will cost nothing to update bar the net connection, and which permits you to share music for free. Illegally if necessary. If I have a choice between a 5-year old run-of-the-mill car or a 12 year old Merc, I would be foolish to buy the Merc because it will cost far more to fix, far more to fuel etc. Particularly if no-one else around me owns a Merc.

Apple do not target the poor, because they are poor. They do not have the money that Apple wants, nor do they have the cachet that Apple makes use of. Its products are aspirational, status items. I suspect that any community whose internet connection is slow and/or expensive will share music via mp3s on usb sticks, not by paying a track at a time on iTunes. Just like we used to, when we had slow and expensive connections.

Apple is an immediate choice in your world, so your problem is the fragility of it. In the world of the poor, Apple is Prada, Gucci, Alienware, Steinway. Hey, Prada have a fashion event on, and the dress code is strings of pearls.

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