Why the Tech “Insiders” Don’t “Get” Apple Watch’s Pricing

I’ve been having a grand time watching the speculation around Apple Watch. While I doubt I’ll buy one (I’m simply not a regular watch wearer), the rumor mill is awesome. The high-end, real-gold “Edition” version is being rumored to cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. What’s best is the assertion that Apple had better start ‘splaining itself when it comes to that price. After all, how can you possibly charge that much when the entry-level version is under $350?

I imagine that the point of the “Edition” version is that you can’t afford one. Apple doesn’t need to “justify” its difference in price from the entry-level $349 “Sport” model any more than American Express “justifies” the $4100 extra annual fee a Centurion Card commands over the Platinum Card. Sure, the Centurion has some extra perks, but not that many.

The justification is simply that most people can’t afford it, thus reserving the ultra-expensive model as a status icon for no other reason than most people can’t afford it. Celebrities will wear the “Edition” model. Maybe Woz will get one. But you won’t, and that’s why it’s “special.”

I wouldn’t be shocked if the Edition model isn’t even on display in stores for casual viewing. You’ll have to make an appointment, like in a fancy jewelry store. I mean, maybe not, but I could se them doing it.

This is pretty much how the luxury-goods market works. Why is a Rolex worth tens of thousands? It’s a Rolex. It’s not a markedly better watch than a Fossil, but it’s a Rolex. Why is a Porsche so expensive? Largely because it’s a Porsche, and people decided that’s what they’d pay for them. Plus, the panda-leather seats. It’s hardly shocking to see Apple go after that end of the market, given that they already command a top-market price based primarily on the strength of their brand.

It’s all got to be massively vexing to established luxury watch brands like Movado, Tag-Heur, and the like. I mean, the press isn’t going gaga wondering how much their next limited-edition timepiece is going to cost, and fretting that their won’t be a solid explanation for the high price.

It’s all deliciously giggly.

Now, where did I put my Mickey Mouse pocket watch…

Microsoft’s Vexing Marketing “Strategy”

I am finding myself increasingly vexed by Microsoft’s marketing “strategy” for Surface in particular, and for Windows in general.

It seems to go something like this: “Let’s trash the competition by making specious comparisons that highlight the very few things we do better.” Seriously, you’ve seen the Surface ad where the big selling point is that the Surface has a snap-on keyboard. Which costs extra.

The latest is the “Don’t get Scroogled with a Google Chromebook, buy a real laptop for $300 that runs Windows.” Google, they inform you, tracks everything you to do display ads. True, of course, but it’s fear-mongering. They even show some terrified young woman who’s clearly surfing something awful, because she does not like the idea of being tracked. Not that Bing does the same thing. But nothing in the commercial tells me why I should love Windows, it only tells me why I should dislike a Chromebook.

That’s terrible marketing. It’s a company that doesn’t even know why I should love its products, which makes me wonder if Microsoft even loves its products. I’m so glad my career is built around the server stuff, which doesn’t have to do all that consumer marketing BS.

This stretches back to Vista, which was a good OS partnered to an epically bad marketing campaign. I swear, I sat in a movie theater and watched a 90-second commercial for the now-defunct “Flip 3D” feature. Seriously. That’s why I should love your product: it moves windows around in simulated 3D. Really.

It’s kind of surprising, because Microsoft’s current Apple envy has them copying absolutely everything from Apple except the one thing that matters. They copied Apple’s retail stores, but they didn’t copy Apple’s marketing. Apple never talks about the competition (well, not anymore… “I’m a Mac, I’m a PC” was successful because it was funny). They just talk about how magical everything is. Doesn’t matter if it’s true – I’m not looking for true. I’m looking for Microsoft to get a little (just a little) self-obssessed and freakin’ evangelize me for a change.

Oddly, MS knows how to do that with Xbox. Just not with anything else. Weird.

Ah well, back to my servers. Which I’m accessing from my Mac, by the way. 🙂