My major criticism of Apple isn’t that it charges a lot for its products — rather, it’s that in addition to charging a lot for its products, it also finds ways to shamelessly nickel-and-dime customers by charging extra money for things that it should include as part of the product. I was reminded of this earlier this week when I read the rumor about Apple potentially ditching the headphone jack for the iPhone 7 and considered the prospect of paying extra for an adapter just so my headphones would still be usable with my phone.
All this got me thinking about past ways that Apple has shamelessly ripped off its loyal fans. I came up with four particularly prominent examples, although I’m sure there are plenty more that I missed. Let’s go over them below.
The $29 Lightning dock port adapter
Remember when Apple decided to switch from its traditional 30-pin port over to the new Lightning ports starting with the iPhone 5? This caused some problems for a lot of people who had invested heavily in accessories for their iPhones since so many of those accessories were based on the old 30-pin port. Apple could have done something to make this transition easier for many of its customers by including a Lightning dock port adapter to help iPhone 5 users connect to their old gear… but it didn’t.
Instead, it sold Lightning port dock adapters completely separately for $29 a pop. Sure, you could eventually buy cheaper port adapters from third-party manufacturers but it took months for them to actually hit the market since Apple forced them to go through a special seminar before they could push out their own accessories.
The iPad mini 3
Whenever a new product comes out, you expect it to at least deliver some kind of technological upgrade over the same product that released a year ago. That’s traditionally been the case for most Apple products but for the iPad mini 3, Apple literally just took the second-generation iPad mini, added Touch ID and charged $100 more for it.
Yes, it’s true: The iPad mini 3 packed the same A7 and M7 chips as the second-gen iPad mini, it featured the same display resolution and it had the exact same camera. The iPad mini 3 even had the exact same weight and dimensions as the iPad mini 2. It was literally the iPad mini 2 with Touch ID and $100 more expensive.
The 16GB iPhone 6s
At a time when much of the smartphone industry has given their baseline models a minimum of 32GB of storage, Apple has stubbornly stuck with 16GB as the baseline model. It’s done this simply to push buyers into paying $100 more for the 64GB model and thus maintain high average selling prices for its devices.
Here’s the deal: 16GB of storage just doesn’t deliver a good user experience, especially ever since Apple added 4K video recording capabilities with the iPhone 6s. What’s the point of having 4K video recording if your device barely has enough space to store any 4K videos? Yes there’s cloud storage but it’s nice to have a way to access things on your device in places where you don’t have a great web connection or during times when you don’t want to put a strain on your monthly data limits.
In short, Apple could give users 32GB of base storage for the iPhone and still make money hand over fist. But it’s making too much money right now by having the 16GB device as the base model, so it won’t do that.
The $13 Remote Loop
Dear God, this is shameless even for Apple. Yes, Apple is selling you a plastic loop for $13 that you can attach to your Apple TV remote control to make sure it doesn’t go flying off your hands. You know what else could do this job? A twist tie. You can buy them in packs of 100 for under $6 on Amazon. They may not be as elegant or magical as the $13 Remote Loop but if you’re the kind of person who needs to have a fashionable plastic remote control loop, you’ve got bigger issues than any I can address.
I’m joking here. Of course a twist tie can’t actually do what the Remote Loop does since it doesn’t come with Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector attached. But the point is this is something that Apple could have easily just included with the Apple TV but it didn’t because it figured someone might actually be willing to pay $13 for it. And sadly, I’m sure lots of people did.