Early Adoption

Here's the thing: two months ago, people like myself — early adopters — put our faith in an amazing company and plunked down $600 clams for a completely new, completely revolutionary and completely untested product. That company is Apple Inc. and that product is the iPhone.

Yesterday — a mere two months later — Apple dropped the price by $200. Some of us were outraged. Some of just said, "Hey, them's the breaks." And some of us — and this is where I find myself — some of us felt not outrage, nothing so dramatic, but we did feel slightly cheated. We felt like we'd paid a premium for a product because we just couldn't wait to get our hands on the damn thing, and now it turned out that that product wasn't really particularly rare and precious after all. Rather, we got burned to the tune of $200 for our love of technology, and if we'd had it all to do over, we'd have waited. Two months of early access did not feel long enough to justify the extra $200. We felt vaguely exploited. Like lab rats. We felt we'd lost out on the deal, and that people were laughing at us.

Steven Riggins says we're just pissed because we're no longer special. And I think that's true, though I don't see that as a bad thing. When folks like me bought the iPhone we did feel special. Hell, let's face it, in some circles we were special. And we worked it. We showed that phone off like it was nobody's business. All of which was great for Apple. Now they go and drop the price, and yup, we look like schmucks. And I'm suddenly far less proud of my iPhone. (Okay, I'm not — I can't stay mad at you baby! But you get the idea. I no longer feel like bragging.)

Apple needs it's early adopters. We are its best marketers, and without us there is no product launch. And for a company whose reputation rests so heavily on its end-user experience — that is, on how its customers feel about their products — it behooves Apple to treat us like we're special, at least a little bit. I don't see that as childish. It's the game Apple is playing themselves. They appeal to our emotions and we respond. Emotionally. I don't want to feel like Apple made a fool of me. I want to be able to brag.

Steven Riggins might not get that, but fortunately Apple does. They're giving us $100 store credit (which, I can tell you, is going straight towards a set of iPhone A/V cables). Perfect. That's exactly what makes Apple an amazing company. They understand the emotional side of technology. They don't poo-poo it. They don't belittle it. They embrace it.

Someone just came to my office, and the first thing they said was, "So, are you mad about the iPhone price-drop?" I just turned my laptop around, showed them Steve Jobs' open letter, and said, "Nope. I'm fine with it."

Saturday, September 08, 2007
There seem to be two camps forming on this issue. There are those who completely understand the backlash and feelings of misgivings held by iPhone early adopters (among them, Steve Jobs), and there are those who think we're assholes, bitches or crybabies for ever having had the gall to show off our $600 iPhones. You know what? From where I sit that's total bullshit.

We showed them off — or at least I did — in large because people asked us to. But also because we were excited about being a part of this cell phone revolution. This was not done cynically. We never said, "Nyah, nyah! I have an iPhone and you don't!" If anything, we said, "I have an iPhone, I love it, here's how it works. You should go buy one as soon as humanly possible." We evangelized. For Apple. And now we feel a little screwed by them. Emphasis on feel. This is completely unscientific, and completely subjective. But we feel taken advantage of. I think it would have been different if it had been even three months. Three months is a quarter of a year. It's some kind of milestone. But two months? What's that? It's nothing. It's a joke. This is not about money. It's about how early adopters were made to feel. And the fact is that many of them were made to feel shitty for being early adopters. And I say again, for a company whose reputation lies so squarely on making it's customers feel good, the timing and size of the iPhone price cut was a tacky, insensitive move. The $100 rebate, however, will go a long way, I think, towards helping folks like me — folks who weren't outraged, but who did feel a bit burned — feel good again about adopting early. I think that's important for both Apple and its customers.