Steve Ballmer Still Thinks iPhones Are Too Expensive, He’s Kind Of Right

It’s probably not all that surprising that the man behind “Developers! Developers! Developers!” thinks that the new iPhone – and all iPhones in general – are way too expensive. Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, while talking with Reid Hoffman from LinkedIn, apparently lamented not only about Apple’s price scheme for the iPhone, but also Google’s real interest in developing phones for the masses.

Ballmer, speaking to Hoffman, had this to say:

[quote]The ecosystem of Android is a little bit wild, from an app compatibility perspective, a malware perspective… maybe in a way that’s not always in the consumer’s best interest… conversely, the Apple ecosystem looks highly controlled, and by the way, quite high priced. The fact that we live in a country where almost every phone is subsidized, you may forget it[/quote]

It’s hard for us to admit it, but he’s not exactly wrong on this one. An unsubsidized iPhone costs just north of $700.00 (in Canada) if you wan’t to avoid a contract with a carrier. My last two iPhones, the 4S and 5, were purchased off of contract because I refuse to get locked into a major carrier. If it wasn’t for subsidies, not too many people would be able to afford any phone, let alone an iPhone. You don’t have to wonder why most people are willing to concede their freedom to carriers for phones; it’s pretty obvious when you look at the prices. As for Google, well, “Advertising! Advertising! Advertising!” Bizarrely, amidst the problems of the mobile world, Microsoft is the one looking to disrupt things. I’m pretty sure no one in the last ten years has ever said anything like that about Microsoft.

It’s kind of nice to see Microsoft getting its fight back. I’m not one to jump into the “competition is good” argument. I don’t usually buy it in most cases, but in this particular case, I think Microsoft could have a lot to add in the mobile space, and frankly put, Apple’s resting on its laurels and the iPhone 5 has had its fair share of problems, including but not limited to scratching, line sync problems with displays, and other things. For a $700.00 phone, and given Apple’s exemplary past history of quality, it’s just not acceptable for the phone to be plagued with a myriad of problems, albeit small problems. It’s not unheard of for people to be on their 3rd, 4th or 5th iPhone 5 before they can get their hands on one that’s in the condition that we’ve come to expect from Apple.

For a $700.00 phone, people shouldn’t even have to worry about that kind of stuff. I shouldn’t have to worry that my camera shutter is broken (it was), that the replacement phone they first gave me had a huge dent in it (it did), that the display of the third replacement has some kind of line sync issue that puts my phone into pinstripe mode every time I gesture in some way (it does, and so does all AU Optronics displays apparently). This is not the Apple I’ve come to love. This is not the Apple I’ve spent most of my tech money on in the past. This is not the Apple that I’m willing to spend $700.00 for an iPhone on, and I think Microsoft might just be starting to realize that they have a small window of opportunity right now. If they play their cards right, people could be looking to move to a new platform.

I mentioned that it’s hard to say off the top, but I should probably say it again. Ballmer’s kind of right on this one: Phones are overpriced.

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