Reuters is running a strange article warning its readers of the so-called Apple Tax, the amount that people are forced to pay Apple for... well, something. A new MacBook and some music and movies seems to be the suggested threat level.
Roving reporter Chris Taylor has dug deep into his hyperbole store by warning readers of the incoming US fiscal cliff: "Income taxes might rise, dividends might get walloped, lifetime gift-tax exemptions might get slashed ... maybe they should be thinking about something else entirely: the Apple tax."
"Remember, this is not something that consumers are being forced to pay. They are dipping willingly into their own pockets, because they're essentially slaves to the devices."
Mac Observer does a pretty good job of reminding Taylor of the meaning of both Tax, and Slave. One is a compulsory contribution to state revenue, the other is a person who is the legal property of another person and is forced to obey them. Apple's customers are neither taxed, nor enslaved. They just like buying Apple products over those made by rival companies for a variety of reasons, most of those reasons boil down to "they're plain good".
Tech expenditure is rising consistently. This Deloitte report says "Even countries that are experiencing stagnant growth or mild recessions should see overall growth in consumer technology unit shipments."... n these countries, consumers may defer spending on big-ticket items while maintaining spending on smaller items, including consumer technology."
The thing is consumer technology isn't on the whole that expensive. Sure, new computers aren't cheap and smartphones cost more than old feature phones did. But compared to the big things in life: cars, houses, house furnishings, holidays, an iPad mini isn't that much. And it's a nice product to use, that is fun, practical and useful almost every day.
Here in the UK we're not really sure how much the fiscal cliff is going to affect the average American, but now seems like a good time to be cutting back on high-tech expenditure. (Incidentally, do you guys know what a triple-dip recession is like? If not check back with us next year. It sounds rather like a theme park ride. You know... the old rickety type without safety harnesses. Or safety checks).
Chris Taylor, meanwhile interviews Sam Martorana. A human-resources specialist for the airline WestJet, and comes to the conclusion: "As for Martorana, his family's indentured servitude to Apple looks like it will continue indefinitely. He is looking to replace his MacBook with a newer model within a year or so, which he guesses will cost at least another $1,300. While he loves the products unreservedly, he sees no way out of the annual Apple tax."
See also: Latest MacBook reviews (or don't, if you're a human being capable of rational decision and strategic foresight and you've decided now isn't a good time to buy one).
Just to put this in context: Henry Martinez, great up near Lake Michigan in the 1930s, and in this Interview with NPR he talks of his experience of growing up during the Great Depression: "It was always a challenge to keep warm — we hugged each other on the floor. We had little beds that open and close. When I think about it, it was horrible. It was horrible. And then the sanitation of the community — garbage was just put in the alley — and did that create a condition? Yes it did: TB [tuberculosis]. I know my sister came down with TB. Sometimes I like to block that out and just say, 'Thanks God you're here."
Just to be clear. I'm not mocking the position of the average American; the last few years (and possibly the next few too) are going to be tough. And for some, those times might be tougher than others. But to highlight the fiscal crisis in America with the purchase of a $1,300 laptop (and the insinuation that this is somehow 'forced' upon people) does nobody any favours. There are - we're sure - pretty big financial stories, and lots of modern day personal tragedies too, that could be reported on.