Monday, February 16, 2009

Price discrimination and innovation

Ultimi Barbarorum looks at the business behind the iPhone

Problem: 4 to 6 months after release, you have run out of early adopters, and now you need to penetrate the more price sensitive punter. Volume starts falling. No matter, you cut the price 10% to 20%. This would be bad for gross margins but for the natural tendency for material costs to come down. “Price down” is like a law of the tech supply chain. Memory prices have been coming down for years, for instance, passive and mechanical bits like the keypad and casing become cheaper to make as they scale up, and one’s engineers are always coming up (or should be) with new ways of making the industrial design more efficient. So gross margins drop only a bit, to 35% to 40%, but your volume goes up again so your operating margin can even increase.

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