Nearly a month after expressing condolences to the family of a
23-year-old Chinese woman who was
while answering her iPhone 5 while it was plugged into a
) is now following up with a "special" deal for its customers.
Citing serious concerns about the potential dangers of generic USB
power adapters to both people and the devices to which they're
plugged in, Cupertino has launched a global
that will allow owners of such iPhone, iPad, and iPod adapters to
swap them out for official Apple versions. For just over two months
beginning August 16, not only will Apple replace customers'
knock-off chargers with ones the company can guarantee have been
subject to its rigorous testing for safety and reliability, but it
will dispose of the old adapters in an eco-responsible manner.
Apple is providing this superior product and environmentally
friendly service for the special price of $10 -- and all in the
interest of the safety of its customers. How responsible. How
beneficent. How -- wait, ten bucks? Is that actually a deal? How
much does this thing normally cost?
Try nearly double. In the interest of keeping its iPhone faithful
free of electric shock, Apple is practically giving away this
one-inch plastic cube at just half of what it normally charges (
) -- and thus settling for a slightly less egregious markup.
Though we don't know the exact breakdown of production costs for
the charger alone, its key and most expensive component by far, the
flyback transformer, runs
-- and probably even lower. When the 30-pin to USB cable (
) is added to the set, the estimated bill of all the materials is
around $4.66. Yet Apple gets away with a retail total of $38 for
both the cable and adapter.
Now the question becomes, "Do we get what we pay for?" Well, let's
take a look at the product
. The customers in Apple's online store have given the new
generation charger an average three-star (out of five) rating.
Despite tech bloggers' assertions that the iOS charger is a
accessory -- with design elements that reduce interference with the
touchscreen and audio playback, for example -- its customers seem
to find its performance lukewarm at best.
Of course, if the product was truly exceptional, it probably
wouldn't need replacing in the first place.
For price comparison's sake,
(OTCMKTS:SSNLF) makes a similar cube charger that contains only
about a dollar less in guts than its Cupertino competitor, but this
up for grabs
) for a drop in the bucket at five and a quarter.
There's a reason Apple consumers are turning to counterfeit
accessories: They're a helluva lot cheaper. A UL-listed,
third-party iOS USB adaptor (albeit lower quality) can be had
online for less than $3 -- including tax and shipping. At this
price, people can afford to have their replacement devices go
defective ten times over.
Apple's takeback program isn't a gift to consumers but a cheap
tactic to increase its own bottom line. Customers are being urged
to ditch their largely safe counterfeit adaptors while getting
duped into dropping $10 on a discounted, yet still-insanely
overpriced, "official" one.
If Apple really wants to do its customers a solid, the company
would join Samsung,
) phones, and even recently released
), drop its proprietary format and make its accessories universally
micro USB compatible.
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Disclosure: Minyanville Studios, a division of Minyanville
Media, has a business relationship with BlackBerry.