Well… I mean you can. If you’re Apple.
Apple recently announced at their developer’s conference that with the new Pro Display XDR monitor ($5000), you had the option to either buy a $200 VESA mount adaptor, or a $999 stand — which is absurd. A monitor that doesn’t come with a stand? Unless you’re laying it flat across your desk or propping it up against the wall, you’re at least another $200 down the drain and if you want to use it as a regular monitor? A thousand.
Apple is the world’s largest tech company, with a market cap worth over $150 billion greater than second place Google. It has one of the world’s most dedicated fanbase for a company, with throngs of people sleeping overnight to wait for the release of certain products, such as the iPhone X in November of 2018. I even know people who make it a mission to buy every single Apple product released, from different versions of MacBooks to new iPods that they don’t even use, and I’m willing to bet that they’re going to buy the new monitor and the ridiculously overpriced stand as well.
Imagine this scene: you’re working at Apple as the person who decides what product ideas to accept and decide what to price them. Somebody comes up with an external stand for the new display and prices it at a thousand dollars. Hold up. A thousand? Yes, you work at Apple and yes, the stand looks nice. A wide variety of what you sell is well over a grand, but still, that’s absurd for a stand. Hell, you can even buy top rated monitors for professional photographers and video editors for a price cheaper than the stand. But then the person who pitches pulls out the cost-benefit analysis.
With Apple’s dedicated fan-base and their solid position as the largest tech company by revenue and largest company in the world by market cap, they’re able to charge such exorbitant prices for non-electronic pieces of metal. Sure, they’ll lose a few customers in the process, but they’ll make it up with the profit that they get from those who do end up buying the stand. That includes businesses whose managers REALLY like Apple, or startups who want to look like they’re hip and individuals who just want to get their hands on all the latest products and have cash to blow.
This stand isn’t a money grab — it’s a testament to their branding. Their very name has become synonymous with quality and aesthetic and people are willing to pay for those things, regardless of price. The stand is a chance for Apple to push their fanbase, finding the line between absurd prices and unacceptable ones, to see how far their consumers will go to buy the name. Honestly, I think it’s a smart move — an absurd price puts their name out into popular media, and creates a buzz surrounding their products. The same tactic worked when they removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 — profits remained consistent regardless of the backlash that Apple experienced.
So why can’t you charge crazy prices for your products or services? Simply because you’re not big enough to stop caring about your consumers. Apple doesn’t need to please the crowd — they’re making sales no matter what, but if you’re a part of a startup company, it’s not profits that should be your concern, it’s your client relations. Creating a successful and positive relationship with your customers should be your utmost priority as a startup, helping create a positive response whenever your company is mentioned. With a good relationship from those who buy from you, they will be more inclined to continue purchasing your products or services, fueling growth. Apple doesn’t have to care about growth — they’ve got plenty of it and don’t have anything to prove. They have successfully created a solid base of consumers through their products being so compatible with each other and matching aesthetic that consumers already feel compelled to buy the next product to add to their collection. From the viewpoint of a small business just starting out, Apple is the golden standard: a company whose products are so effective in capturing the consumer that growth no longer becomes a concern but rather simply releasing products and pushing technology forward through R&D. But in order to get there, you need to make your customers fall in love with you first and to have so many consumers that no matter what you sell, you know that you’re going to be turning a profit. And that’s why you can’t charge $999 for a stand, because you’re not there yet. First prioritize your client relations and streamline your products to capture an audience and only after decades of phenomenal growth can you test the loyalty of your fanbase.