Apple Users Are Stupid

Wow! That is fun to say! After suffering years under the smug superiority of my Apple-using friends…

The evidence that they’re stupid is not evidence of stupidity at all. It’s evidence that they are willing to pay a premium for luxury/status goods like their Apples. The evidence was gathered by the Orbitz travel web site, which has experimented with pricing hotel rooms consistent with what Apple users are likely to pay: more.

Perhaps we’ll hear wails of outrage from self-styled consumer advocates, the drama heightened by the glow of the apple icons on their Macbooks. Perhaps Congress will look into “unfair” pricing schemes. I’m hard-pressed to see how offering a price based on an indicator of one’s willingness to pay is unfair.

What’s happening here is the articulation of pricing and marketing practices that have been at play probably since commerce began. (Perhaps you’ve heard of haggling.) I’m not saying commerce began around his time, but my dad used to tell me about when he sold suits. If a guy wearing a fancy blue suit came into the store, he would try to sell him a fancy blue suit. If a guy came in wearing something a little downscale, pops steered him over to the sale rack. Now that’s happening with digital data rather than analog data.

Perhaps public reaction will be strongly opposed. A rough sense of pricing “fairness” will threaten differential pricing’s practitioners with too much opprobrium to make it worth the risk. Or perhaps Apple users are relatively indifferent to price and they won’t be able to sustain their outrage. I’m in favor of whichever development the free interaction of sellers and buyers produces.

I hope you gather the negative inference in that last sentence: this is not an issue for politicians to meddle with. If they did, that would be truly stupid.

Update: Kashmir Hill, not befogged with glee at Apple users’ travails, writes with more care, noting, “Mac users can still choose to sort their hotel and flight options by price, and then see the cheap stuff. And PC users can still filter their results so they get four- and five-star hotel options instead of a three-night deal at the Super 8 Hotel.” So it’s not actually differential pricing, though I wish it were…