The Adventures of Systems Boy!

Confessions of a Mac SysAdmin...

Early Adoption

Here's the thing: two months ago, people like myself — early adopters — put our faith in an amazing company and plunked down $600 clams for a completely new, completely revolutionary and completely untested product. That company is Apple Inc. and that product is the iPhone.

Yesterday — a mere two months later — Apple dropped the price by $200. Some of us were outraged. Some of just said, "Hey, them's the breaks." And some of us — and this is where I find myself — some of us felt not outrage, nothing so dramatic, but we did feel slightly cheated. We felt like we'd paid a premium for a product because we just couldn't wait to get our hands on the damn thing, and now it turned out that that product wasn't really particularly rare and precious after all. Rather, we got burned to the tune of $200 for our love of technology, and if we'd had it all to do over, we'd have waited. Two months of early access did not feel long enough to justify the extra $200. We felt vaguely exploited. Like lab rats. We felt we'd lost out on the deal, and that people were laughing at us.

Steven Riggins says we're just pissed because we're no longer special. And I think that's true, though I don't see that as a bad thing. When folks like me bought the iPhone we did feel special. Hell, let's face it, in some circles we were special. And we worked it. We showed that phone off like it was nobody's business. All of which was great for Apple. Now they go and drop the price, and yup, we look like schmucks. And I'm suddenly far less proud of my iPhone. (Okay, I'm not — I can't stay mad at you baby! But you get the idea. I no longer feel like bragging.)

Apple needs it's early adopters. We are its best marketers, and without us there is no product launch. And for a company whose reputation rests so heavily on its end-user experience — that is, on how its customers feel about their products — it behooves Apple to treat us like we're special, at least a little bit. I don't see that as childish. It's the game Apple is playing themselves. They appeal to our emotions and we respond. Emotionally. I don't want to feel like Apple made a fool of me. I want to be able to brag.

Steven Riggins might not get that, but fortunately Apple does. They're giving us $100 store credit (which, I can tell you, is going straight towards a set of iPhone A/V cables). Perfect. That's exactly what makes Apple an amazing company. They understand the emotional side of technology. They don't poo-poo it. They don't belittle it. They embrace it.

Someone just came to my office, and the first thing they said was, "So, are you mad about the iPhone price-drop?" I just turned my laptop around, showed them Steve Jobs' open letter, and said, "Nope. I'm fine with it."

Saturday, September 08, 2007
There seem to be two camps forming on this issue. There are those who completely understand the backlash and feelings of misgivings held by iPhone early adopters (among them, Steve Jobs), and there are those who think we're assholes, bitches or crybabies for ever having had the gall to show off our $600 iPhones. You know what? From where I sit that's total bullshit.

We showed them off — or at least I did — in large because people asked us to. But also because we were excited about being a part of this cell phone revolution. This was not done cynically. We never said, "Nyah, nyah! I have an iPhone and you don't!" If anything, we said, "I have an iPhone, I love it, here's how it works. You should go buy one as soon as humanly possible." We evangelized. For Apple. And now we feel a little screwed by them. Emphasis on feel. This is completely unscientific, and completely subjective. But we feel taken advantage of. I think it would have been different if it had been even three months. Three months is a quarter of a year. It's some kind of milestone. But two months? What's that? It's nothing. It's a joke. This is not about money. It's about how early adopters were made to feel. And the fact is that many of them were made to feel shitty for being early adopters. And I say again, for a company whose reputation lies so squarely on making it's customers feel good, the timing and size of the iPhone price cut was a tacky, insensitive move. The $100 rebate, however, will go a long way, I think, towards helping folks like me — folks who weren't outraged, but who did feel a bit burned — feel good again about adopting early. I think that's important for both Apple and its customers.

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6:43 PM

My take on the price drop was that the initial price was their risk avoidance. That is, there were a hideous number of things that could go wrong. Perhaps those glass screens would have scratching and cracking problems. Maybe the pixels would die or the touch sensitivity foul up. Maybe it would get rooted or the batteries would catch fire.

Lots of things that they could not be perfectly sure of until mass production and mass usage. Any one of those would have meant a big recall on apple's dime. You would not want them asking for another $100 later from you to cover that because they underpriced it?

Then there's the fact that historically apple can never produce enough of their first generation machines. They know from experience it's not good to over produce cause not every elegant thing is a winner (the cube?) in the market.

And then there was the customer service. At launch they did not really want too many buyers cause that would have meant insane customer service probelms even if there were no problems with the device. AT&T could barely cope as it was. Just imagine if there had been a rash of QA problems with the device. Or simply that the itards could not connect to AT&T because they could not RTFM.

SO it went more smoothly than they could have imagined. And sold well. So they up-ped their quantity contracts. Maybe Cheapend a few things they did not dare scrimp on in the 1.0 models. And then decided to go ahead with the ipod touch knowing it would produce even more volume discounts in their suppliers.

Everything worked so they dropped the safety margins in the price.

I don't think it's any more complex than that.    

6:50 PM

No one's arguing that Apple is mistaken, from a financial perspective, in dropping the iPhone's price. I'm sure it makes excellent business sense. All I'm saying is this:
1. Early buyers felt screwed.
2. They were not babies or assholes for feeling that way.
3. Apple was smart in realizing this and correcting for it, because it's smart to preserve good will with your customers, particularly your most loyal ones.

I'm also saying that Apple is a company who, perhaps moreso than most, is concerned with how its customers feel, and therefore is smart to consider those feelings when dropping a product's price just like they do when they design software.

Thanks for the comment!


4:06 PM

Mr. Systems Boy!

You are a lab rat. People ARE laughing at you, but we were doing so at the start of this iPhone thing.

You are obviously one of the ravening hiptards who waited in line for hours hoping for a chance to spend extravagantly on a newish version of a functional necessity - a phone - which shows that you lack ambition, lack creativity above all you lack critical thinking skills.

Apple does not care how you "feel" as a customer. Apple is a business which means Apple cares how you feel about giving money to them.

Man I love your next diddy:

"Apple needs it's early adopters. We are its best marketers, and without us there is no product launch."

Oh Really?! Most marketing people I know are on salary. Nobody asked you to show up and buy an iPhone.

You're a good little German and hell - just admit it man - you're a stooge.    

11:11 PM

God, I love a woman who can use the term hiptard with conviction.

Seriously, is there any point to your comment except to be venomous and hateful? I don't get people like you.

Get a life.


8:21 AM


No! YOU get a life Systems Boy!

Apple screwed you. And what will you do I wonder?

D'OH! You'll keep on buying Apple products.

You know, if people like you (i.e. people with money) demanded - really DEMANDED better service, better products from your overlord Steve Jobs ... maybe you'd inspire some innovation.

Instead you are happy to get a rebate check. You compliment Apple for recognizing your outrage.

"Thank You Sir May I Have Another?"    

5:06 PM

Wow. Angry much?

Clearly your rage has little to do with me or Apple or the iPhone or the price cut.

To reiterate, I'm very happy with my iPhone, and was only slightly upset by the timing of the price cut.

For clarity: I work in education and do not make a lot of money. I rationalized the iPhone purchase by using it to replace my aging Powerbook, a much more expensive item. It was still not easy to justify but it has largely paid off and will ultimately save me a great deal of money. Since I make my living in technology, none of these are unreasonable purchases.

And, as I understand it, people like me did demand better, which apparently did lead to a $100 rebate, which, yes, is plenty for me.

I've been using Apple products for years, and I've been quite happy with them for the most part. So, yes, I will continue to do so. I'm immensely pleased with my iPhone. It's incredibly innovative.

I may be a — what was it, ravening hiptard — but you are mean and shrill and irritating.

Please go away. Thank you.


9:33 AM

Systems Boy - what about all of this disaffected talk in your original post?

"When folks like me bought the iPhone we did feel special. Hell, let's face it, in some circles we were special. And we worked it ... which was great for Apple. Now they go and drop the price ... I'm suddenly far less proud of my iPhone."

Originally you felt special, and then you felt used, which is the correct reaction. Next came a period of defensiveness regarding Apple because somebody like me pointed out your bizarre consumerist behavior. In your last post you've come full circle - back to you the safe place where Mac is king where you can feel special again.

I think you must feel this way because of your saintly dedication to Apple products which is completely justified in your noble educational role.

This reads like a case worker file on upper-middle-class domestic abuse.

Anyway ... the gentle hum of dissatisfaction among early iPhone 'adopters' did NOT prompt Pimp Steve to offer the 100 dollar in-store rebate. Hell no.

Apple's people had that rebate factored-in long before iPhone's launch because they know their dedicated drones are happy with crumbs. In fact, Apple's M&D teams have the next two years of further iPhone upgrades and rebates ready to go.

They can plan ahead because people like you never give them any surprises.

Maybe Proctor & Gamble should re-market their Frito Lay products made with Olestra to you guys.

"Sure I have anal leakage at the office - but the product is so innovative - and hey where would Olestra be without early adopters like me?"

Sigh ...    

10:08 AM


Yes, there was some disaffected talk, but you seem to be ignoring the five or so posts in which I largely praise the iPhone.

I don't recall getting defensive. I recall asking what the point was to your original comment — a question you've failed thus far to directly address.

I don't feel that "Mac is king." I feel like I enjoy their products a great deal, and that they helped ease some feelings of exploitation I'd had as a result of the timing of their price cut by giving me a store credit. I believe this happens all the time in the consumer world: brand loyalty and store credit are extremely common.

You seem to imply that if angry customers had not emailed Apple they would have gone ahead and given the rebate anyway. I seriously doubt this is the case.

I've never read a case worker file on upper-middle class domestic abuse, but I'm sure it reads nothing like this. Except for the part where you launched a personal attack on me in the comments section of my blog. Yeah, maybe that part.


Oh, and my anal leakage is none of your business. I'd prefer if you didn't mention it again.

Have a great day.


6:34 PM

My whole point is that you should not be an iPhone apologist.

As a Senior Systems Administrator in an art department, you state that much of your job is “creating the best possible experience for our users.” Wouldn’t your “job” as an iPhone early adopter run along those same basic lines?

I would hope that all first responders and early adopters feel obliged by their self-title to advocate for the absolute very best a product can be. Sadly that is rarely the case.

You of all people should be able to see the hills from the trees here. Yes “brand loyalty and store credit are extremely common,” but so what? Apple, Inc. sucked you in on an over-hyped six hundred dollar bookend and only six weeks later they drastically chopped the price.

So you must ask yourself: Is this a common business practice? Are they deserving of your continued loyalty? No to both.

And yet you “weren't outraged.” You were only “a bit burned” which is just the kind of gullible response Apple, Inc. has come to expect.

I don’t “seem to imply that if angry customers had not emailed Apple they would have gone ahead and given the rebate anyway” – No, I am telling you the boys at Apple, Inc. knew a very small minority of iPhoners would have the balls to demand any real customer satisfaction; a hundred buck in-store credit would shut most of you up.

Look - the projected rebate totals have already been bundled into Apple’s pipelined sales figures for the entire fiscal quarter. This is Business 101.

So, in light of this apathy on the part of 'Early Adopters," I hereby nominate the iPhone for the Quality Craftsmanship Krusty Brand Seal of Approval.

"It's not just good. It's good enough!"    

7:50 PM


You state:
"So, in light of this apathy on the part of 'Early Adopters,' I hereby nominate the iPhone for the Quality Craftsmanship Krusty Brand Seal of Approval."

Now you are equating the behavior of Apple's customers with the quality of their products. The two have nothing to do with each other. We customers could be the biggest idiots in the world and Apple could be run by Satan himself, and all of that would do nothing to diminish the stellar quality of the iPhone. I say that not as an "apologist" but as someone who is using the device on a regular basis and loving it. It's one of the finest products I've ever owned, and I've never said otherwise.

What I don't like is feeling exploited. I did by the price cut. The rebate helps mitigate that. In the end, it doesn't matter to me why Apple gave the rebate. The simple fact that they gave it is enough for me. That does not make me an apologist or a stooge. That makes me a human, with feelings. When someone — a company, person, a family pet — takes advantage of those feelings, it's upsetting. By the same token, when they try to make amends, it's comforting.

Your arguments seem to based not on a logical train of thought, but on an irrational and unfounded hatred of Apple and its customers. You seem to think you have us all pegged, that we're all the same, that we're all stupid, upper-middle-class design-school wanks. It makes me sad. It fills me with contempt. Frankly, it makes me want to buy you an iPhone. (For the low, low price of $399, of course.) But something tells me that wouldn't do the trick. Something tells me that there's something bigger at work here. I don't know what it is, and it's really none of my business, but I've come to realize it's really not my problem either.



8:33 PM

I don't need an iPhone. Nobody does.    

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