My buddy Jamil (whose real identity must remain a closely guarded secret) lists on his blog 12 reasons to live in Israel (http://tinyurl.com/2f8ebs).
To which I'd like to add a 13th: Living in the "consumer outback" (as opposed to the hi-tech development center) that Israel is to large multinational consumer device makers, those who reside here almost never have the opportunity to be "early adopters" of new consumer technology products. By the time a product has made its way to our neighborhood, it's usually been tried and revised, sometimes several times - thus saving us the manifold problems associated with being "guinea pigs" for manufacturers who know their product really isn't ready for prime time, but are under pressure to release it anyway.
This un-readiness can manifest itself in several ways, with the most common manifesting itself as a problem with the technology; companies often know that software and even hardware - sometimes expensive hardware - have problems that were not properly addressed before a pre-hyped release date. Why would a company deliberately risk its good name by allowing customers to buy something they are only going to get frustrated with and return to the shop anyway? Lots of reasons - getting a market share, beating the competition with a similar product to market or ensuring that investors (who often don't understand the technical problems involved) don't get nervous, are just some that come to mind.
Apparently, you can also make a "beta mistake" when it comes to marketing as well. This is one potential explanation for Apple's iPhone double-trouble price cut/customer credit announced last week, angering and them assuaging people who bought the device in June. Apple is discontinuing altogether its 4 GB iPhone, which had been priced at $499 (there may be some left in Apple stores, with the price cut to $299) - while the 8 GB model, formerly $599, is now $399. That's a 33% price cut - for a product that by all reports was selling quite well (http://tinyurl.com/2scz3f), and was introduced just two months ago!
In an open letter to the naturally irate (or would that be i-Rate, since we're talking about Apple?) customers - many of whom felt "shafted" by the rapid price cut, unprecedented for its speed even for Apple, which often cuts prices for version 1.1 of whatever it's selling at the moment - Apple CEO Steve Jobs told customers (http://www.apple.com/hotnews/openiphoneletter) that "this is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you'll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon." Still, he said, after "after reading every one" of the hundreds of complaint e-mails he got personally (lots of the dissatisfied customers posted their complaints in more public forums), Jobs offered dissatisfied customers a $100 Apple Store credit.
Speculation has been rife as to why Apple would cut the price of a briskly selling product two months after it came out - certainly he could have anticipated the backlash from customers who stood on line for hours to buy one last June; his investors were certainly wondering at the wisdom of the move (http://tinyurl.com/2p4vzu).
Personally, I don't there's any big mystery here; Jobs is convinced his iPhone can beat any other smartphone hands down (I have to agree with him), and he aims to conquer the market during the upcoming "winter gifting season."
And for those who can't use an iPhone because they can't/won't sign up with the single US service provider supporting it (AT&T), there's a new line of iPods - the iPod Touch (http://tinyurl.com/34sdm8), which has the touch screen and the 8 GB (also comes in a 16 GB edition) of the iPhone, as well as a Wi-fi connection. It's like a souped-up Wi-fi connected PDA that also lets you watch videos, listen to music, and surf the Internet. It doesn't have a native e-mail application, though - although these days, when Gmail is all the rage, that's not a deal-killer.
And, Apple has made a deal with the ubiquitous Starbucks chain, too - whenever an iPhone or iPod Touch comes within range of a Starbucks, the chain's logo will display on the device's screen and, if iTunes is present, the user will be able to download the song playing in the store!
Technology does change, rapidly, as we all know. When a manufacturer is having a sale on an item, it's usually (but apparently not in this case) because the product is going to be discontinued or otherwise outmoded. And a one-third drop in price is not at all unprecedented.
If anyone has a right to be angry at falling technology prices, it's the people who bought the Bezeq BMusic Internet radio device - the company dropped the price on these things by half last week (http://tinyurl.com/23un7d)! The talkback forum where this story was reported (in Hebrew) had lots of folks praising the device or complaining about it, but I didn't see anyone who complained about feeling ripped off because they paid NIS 1,400 for BRadio in May instead of the NIS 700 they can get it for now. According to the article, Bezeq is soon going to market BVideo, which will allow streaming video to television sets in the home (similar to Apple TV) - which would explain the major price cut on the "old" tech product.
I have to admit I felt very tempted when I saw BMusic in TV spots over the summer - I'm a big fan of Internet radio - but in the end I decided it wasn't worth the money to buy a dedicated radio (mono, in fact, with just one speaker) for something I could do for free on a computer (and, with Apple Airport Express, which cost a lot less than NIS 1,400, I could stream music anywhere in the house anyway). Now, though, that the price of the Bmusic device has come down to a realistic level, I may check it out again.
See why it's always better to wait - and how lucky we are that we couldn't buy iPhone at price 1.0, even if we wanted to? Now the thing is more affordable, and a couple of Israeli kids have cracked the lock that required an AT&T connection (http://www.iphones.co.il/wordPress/). And for those who don't want or need the phone functionality at all, there's the iPod Touch.
My prediction: The lines on "Black Friday" (http://tinyurl.com/593mg) are going to be even longer than the original iPhones lines (http://tinyurl.com/3d99ln)!
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