You’ve probably heard about Apple’s Wheel Kit that selling for $700! Which is pretty shocking considering you’d be spending the same amount on four metal wheels, as on an iPhone 11. So what are these wheels for?
Well, they’re designed to be used with the Mac Pro to make it more portable. Whether that means moving it around a studio or moving it across town, rolling the 39-pound Mac Pro is much easier than picking it up and lugging it around. But the purpose of these wheels isn’t the issue here.
What people really what to know is why Apple selling $700 Mac Pro wheels? Well, there are three reasons we’re going to cover, starting with what we call Apple’s Accessory Tax. If you own an iPhone and stopped by the Apple store to buy a second charging cable and wall adapter, you have been surprised by just how much Apple charges for those accessories. You’d end up spending a total of $50.
This may be surprising if you’re coming from an Android device since companies like Google charge 30% less for those accessories. But Apple’s markups are even higher on Mac accessories. Take the Magic Keyboard for example, which costs $100. A comparable PC equivalent like the Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard is half the price, at just $50.
But there’s something else We can point out here! If you notice, Microsoft’s keyboard includes a numeric pad, while Apple’s doesn’t. And if you do want a numeric pad on your Magic Keyboard, it’s going to cost an extra $30. And if you want that keyboard in Apple’s sleek space grey color, it’s going to cost another $20.
Bring the total price of your new Space grey Magic Keyboard with a numeric pad to $150. Three times more than what Microsoft is offering. And that disparity in price is the Apple Accessory Tax. But how do they get away with charging so much more?
Surely Mac users would simply buy Bluetooth keyboards from other companies to avoid paying Apple’s premium price, right? Well, that isn’t what happens in most cases. Because the reality is that Apple has a monopoly on Apple products. This means, that a customer buying Apple’s Mac Mini who loves the way the product is designed, is much more likely to pay Apple’s accessory tax to have a keyboard and mouse that matches the industry-leading industrial design of their Mac.
But it’s also important to understand the convenience factor. If you’re at the Apple Store buying a Mac Mini and need a keyboard to go with it, it’s much easier to simply buy whatever is available at that store. Rather than making a separate trip to Best Buy or a Microsoft store to try and save some money.
But I admit that comparing $700 Mac Pro wheels to Bluetooth keyboards isn’t a fair comparison. Mainly because there are hundreds of companies who make Bluetooth keyboards, and customers can pick whichever one they want regardless of what computer they’re using. But if you own a Mac Pro, and you want it to have wheels, you have only one option!
This brings us to the second reason why Apple’s charging $700 for wheels. And that’s simply because customers have no other option. When you go to McDonald’s and ask for extra barbecue sauce with your McNuggets, you’re forced to pay thirty-five cents per packet, because you can’t get that delicious sauce anywhere else. And that’s exactly the problem Mac Pro customers find themselves in.
If they want wheels, they have to pay whatever price Apple names. It’s as simple as that. We’ve seen this play out before, with products like the one-thousand-dollar Pro Display XDR stand. Customers buying the $5,000 display were forced to pay the inflated price for its stand, since Apple was the only company offering it. But it’s important to consider where the outrage over these high prices is coming from. When it comes to the Pro Display XDR, most customers buying it didn’t have a problem paying the extra $1,000 for a stand.
And the same can be said for the Mac Pro wheels. Because if you think about it, the cheapest Mac Pro costs $6,000. And if you want the best performance money can buy, a maxed-out Mac Pro will run you $53,399. So suddenly an extra $400 or $700 for wheels doesn’t seem too concerning.
Also, many of Apple’s Mac Pro customers are businesses, that are even less price-sensitive than everyday consumers. Now that doesn’t negate the fact that Apple charges insane prices for their accessories, but it’s important when considering why they choose to price these products so high.
And consider this: If you’re Apple, you understand that customers who don’t need Mac Pro wheels, won’t buy them. No matter how cheap they are! Even if these wheels were $100, you still wouldn’t have a reason to buy them if you don’t own a Mac Pro. And by the same logic, if you do own a Mac Pro and want an easy way to move it around, you need to buy these wheels. No matter how expensive they are. And that’s exactly why Apple gets away with charging $700 for Mac Pro wheels.
Customers who need it don’t have a choice, and if they’re spending thousands of dollars on a Mac Pro in the first place, they can probably afford it. Now the last reason why Apple is charging so much for some wheels has everything to do with marketing.
Historically, Apple has a reputation for charging quite a bit more for their products than other companies. The original Macintosh was $2,500 in 1984. Which is quite a bit more than the average $1,500 price of a personal computer at the time. And that trend continued throughout Apple’s history. Now some may consider this to be a bad thing.
After all, if a company is known for charging higher prices than their competition, customers would likely avoid that brand. But Apple occupies a very unique space in the tech industry. They aren’t only known for being expensive, but also being incredibly well designed.
Their industrial design team is the most awarded design group in the world, and several Apple products have proven to be so iconic that they’re displayed in museums. Something that can’t be said for most tech companies today. And this premium image has proven to be a huge asset to Apple.
Customers don’t view the company as an average smartphone or computer manufacturer like Nokia or Dell. They see Apple as a luxury brand that sells some of the most expensive and desirable tech products on the market, and that image only helps Apple. But consider what they’ve been doing for the past year.
The 2019iPhone 11 was introduced with a $50 discount over its predecessor, the 2020 MacBook Air received a $100 price drop, and the new $400 iPhone SE is one of the cheapest smartphones Apple has ever made. And this can be dangerous for a company like Apple since releasing low-cost products can damage its reputation as a luxury brand.
Take the clothing company Champion for example. When We were a kid, they were one of the cheapest, lowest quality clothing brands out there. But by partnering with expensive high-quality brands like Virgil Abloh and Supreme, they’ve managed to completely reposition themselves in the clothing market from a bargain bin brand to a luxury brand.
Plus it had everything to do with how much they were charging for their products. Now that same philosophy can be applied to the tech industry. But there’s one big difference! Becoming a luxury tech brand has proven to be much more difficult. And with Apple releasing so many low-cost products recently, their premium image is at stake.
That’s why Apple needs to defend its reputation as one of the most expensive tech companies in the world. But how exactly do they accomplish that? Well, they did it by releasing ridiculously overpriced products that only a few people would ever buy or even need. For example, the $700 Mac Pro wheels are only a product Mac Pro owners would buy.
The same goes for their $1,000 stand. There’s no point in buying it if you don’t already own a $5,000 Pro Display XDR. And remember the $10,000 gold Apple Watch Edition? That was the perfect opportunity for Apple to boost its luxurious image.
Not only does the $10,000 price tag raise the product’s perceived quality, but it also gets the attention of some of the most influential figures in society today. Drake, Beyonce, Kanye West, and Katy Perry, were all seen wearing Apple’s $10,000 smartwatch.
This level of promotion helps advertise the product and gives it a ‘cool’ factor that other smartwatches don’t have. Because keep in mind, that the $10,000 Apple Watch was certainly ridiculous, but think of how many $350 models it helped sell. And that’s exactly the strategy Apple has been successfully using over the years
Positioning themselves as a luxury brand by selling a few extremely high-ticket items, and leveraging that premium image when offering low-cost products.