Is there a hidden agenda with the exorbitantly priced iPhone X?

It will sell for a cool $999 when it comes out in November, but it's just part of an effort to get us to pay more for our phones.

Here's what's happening.

First, the wireless carriers can't seem to get people to sign up for contracts anymore, so the alternative now is to pay a monthly fee to use the phone--a pay-as-you-go scheme. Your teenager might not have $999 laying around, but he or she surely has $40 each month. This writer claims the iPhone X isn't that expensive, but many powerful and recent smartphone cost around $600. Suddenly, a premium phone at $999 seems acceptable.

Second, it's an Apple product we're talking about. Go ahead and argue with me about why Android phones are just as fast and useful, but the iPhone is the best selling individual smartphone ever for a reason. People know how to use it, and they like the closed ecosystem for music, movies, and apps. In my job, I've tested many Android phones from companies like HTC and Motorola that tended to crash for no reason at the worst possible time. I've tested an iPhone 7 Plus for months and it has never crashed. If you are running a business and talking to an investor or a client, you can't really mess around with a phone that is prone to crashing. The iPhone just works.

And that's going to cause more problems when it comes to pricing.

Smartphones stopped being phones a long time ago. They are far beyond anything we can summarize easily. They are like a personal assistant. They let us talk to bots. We use them as cameras, to record conversations in a meeting, to book a flight, and everything else.

Maybe $999 doesn't seem that expensive. (By the way, the model with 256GB of storage costs $1,149, which is out of my league.) That's more than most basic televisions these days. As a colleague pointed out recently, it might be cheaper for people in other countries to book a flight and travel to the United States to buy an iPhone and still save money on the airfare.

It's not the current price that worries me, though.

As we rely more and more on phones as a digital assistant for everything, it is entirely possible that smartphones will cost much more in the future.

As companies like Samsung and Apple add more features, use more rugged materials, add longer-lasting batteries, and use more advanced chip sets, we may see prices go up to as high as $1,500 or even $2,000. Let's say there is a major breakthrough at Apple and they figure out how to double the life of the iPhone. Let's call that model the iPhone Pro. Maybe it will come out next year. If you knew it lasted twice as long as the current model, would you pay twice as much? Maybe that's a no-brainer.

And it's not really about adding new features or making phones last longer. More and more, I see people using their smartphones on planes and during meetings. Laptops? Not so much. Tablets? Not really. Microsoft, Motorola, and others have experimented with phones that connect to a monitor at work, and this will become commonplace by 2020. We'll use our phones like laptops. In some ways, we already do that, especially as we dictate articles by voice and rely on artificial intelligence as an app replacement.

The sad part of this future scenario is that I'll probably line up at the Apple store next year for the $1,500 model, and then pay even more the next year. They have us firmly hooked. We'll pay top dollar for the top phones and let the rest fight over the older models or the used ones in the bargain bin. What we might not realize, though, is that each new model is produced in higher and higher quantities and at a lower production cost. We're all turning Apple and Samsung into massive, bloated monoliths. At least someone is getting rich.

Published on: Sep 18, 2017