This is one of those posts that some people will respect because they’ve been loyal Apple fans for decades and others will come down on as a wholly first world problem that shouldn’t be an issue anyone should face. However, I feel as if this is certainly a topic we all should be discussing when it comes to those of us who have for years loved Apple and wanted to buy most of it comes up with. It used to be that you could do things like I used to do which was every 3 years, you’d be on a cycle of iPod, iPhone, iMac, MacBook (or iBook). You could upgrade all 4 devices every 3 years and have good enough and be pretty happy without major changes happening. I thought in assembling this piece that I would look back at my Apple purchases since the year 2000. There’s not too hard but I’d then be tempted to roll all of that cost into a stock calculator showing if I had put $2500 into AAPL in 2009 instead of buying a 17” MacBook Pro, I’d have enough to pay off my car today. So…I’m not going to do that. 

I think Apple has entered an era where most of their customers buy just one device from them every 3 years and that’s why their prices have gone up so much. You have a person who last year bought an iPhone X for $999 and an iPad Pro 2018 this year for $799 and Apple will see them in a couple of years for the next iPad and iPhone. In 2016, Asymco had estimated every Apple customer spends on average a dollar per day. That’s comically low but I guess not and now in 2018, I’d estimate it’s $5 a day. Let’s look at the prices of Apple’s flagship devices:

  1. iPhone XS: $999
  2. iPad Pro: $799 but add $129 for a pencil and $179 for a Keyboard
  3. MacBook Air, $1199
  4. iMac: $1999 (for the one worth buying)
  5. AppleCare $129 for iPhone, $129 for iPad, $149 for MacBook, $129 for iMac
  6. $12 a year for iCloud
  7. $120 a year for Apple Music
  8. Add in $60 for a monthly $5 rental
  9. $149 for Apple TV + $29 for AppleCare 
  10. $450 for the regular AppleWatch 
  11. $159 for AirPods
  12. $349 for HomePod

If an Apple fan were to purchase everything Apple Makes without configuring them at the highest price, they’d spend $7,162 on 12 months to own all of Apple’s technology products and all of these are on a yearly cadence. If you spread this out over 3 years (which is the cycle time Apple tends to like for their customers), it’s $2387 each year to keep current with Apple’s eco-system. 

This is far beyond what most people have in spending money…$2500 roughly a year before you buy cases, apps, software, dongles and HomeKit accessories is for some people, all of their spending money for the entire year. Perhaps Apple’s user-base is way more segmented. We should assume that everyone owns an iPhone so $999 every 3 years. 

I think iPhone + AirPods + HomePod + Services will be a majority of users. You could swap HomePod for AppleTV I think those two devices don’t have to both exist and could be owned completely separate since you can pump tunes to your stereo hooked up to an AppleTV/Television. This user would have a run rate of around $464 per year before buying AppleCare. 

There’s another user who is iPhone + MacBook Air and AirPods and now they’re at around $850 per year. I would think that the majority of Apple’s customers average in around this per year which is $2.30 a day to Apple. I’m looking at the Apple devices my girlfriend and I currently own. We are a family according to Apple and therefore we are seen as one household which I’m sure Apple keeps metrics on. She currently owns:

  • 2015 13” MacBook Pro Core i7, 16GB RAM, 128GB SSD +AppleCare ($1899)
  • iPhone 7 Plus +AppleCare ($969)
  • AirPods ($159)
  • AppleTV 4K +AppleCare ($178)

Here’s my current Apple devices list and everything here is used on a daily basis:

  • iMac 5K (late 2015) ($2639) 
  • MacBook Pro (2018) ($3899)
  • iPad Pro (2018) with Pencil and Folio Keyboard ($1257)
  • iPhone XS with Apple Leather Case ($1098)
  • Apple Watch Series 4, 44mm Space Black with Stainless Steel Link Bracelet and AppleCare ($1377)
  • AirPods ($159)
  • AppleTV 4K + AppleCare ($228)
  • Dongles and chargers that I’ve bought to make everything work including my thunderbolt 3 dock ($350)

If you look at Apple devices I’ve owned over the last 3 years, I’d have to add:

  • iPad mini 4 – $400
  • iPad Pro 9.7” – $1029
  • iPhone 8 Plus – $949
  • iPhone 7 – 849
  • Apple Watch Series 2 Space Black with Black sport band – $499

Finally, we spend each month $14.99 for a Family Apple Music Plan and $9.99 for 1TB Shared iCloud and an average of $7 a month on Apple iTunes Movie Rentals for an annual run-rate of $383.76

The cost of being an Apple Fanboy household over 3 years = $18,240 or $6,080 per year with buying middle to high-end hardware.

I make more money than I did 10 years ago and I have always bought top of the line Apple hardware but 10 years ago, Apple didn’t make home speakers, set top boxes for your television, headphones (at least not ones that didn’t already come in the iPod box) and there was no iPhone (well exactly 10 years ago yes) or iPad and you didn’t have to spend $300 on a Thunderbolt 3 dock or $29 times 5 on a ton of dongles to make USB-C work for you. It was a time in my life when every year I would buy a new iMac for around $2200 and a new MacBook Pro the next year for around $2500 so I was spending each year $2300 roughly for a MacBook or an iMac and I’d alternate them on 2 year refresh cycles and to put all of this out in writing, it’s now ballooned by twice as much thanks for the iPad and iPhone mostly along with services.

Even I 2011 with the iPhone and iPad around, iPhone was $650 and iPad was $499. MacBook Air was $999 and Pro was $1499. The iMac’s $1999 model was still quite good. The last 3 years specifically, Apple’s entry point has gone up by $250 across the board on all of their flagship products.

Now, when I login to AppleCare I see this:

While I may be an outlier among Apple’s 1 billion customers, I can’t be alone in this. The cost of being an Apple Fanboy and wanting to fully participate in their ecosystem is now $500 a month or $16 a day. I am now in a situation where I’d prefer to give Apple $250 a month every month than go through this and in 2019, I’ll likely be upgrading my iMac which is becoming long in the tooth at handling 40K 60FPS HEVC files. 

I had to put this all out there because we’ve now reached a point where I can’t keep up with Apple. I can’t just go out and buy AirPods 2.0 when they come out or AirPower when it ships or an Apple television if that ever happens. If they introduce AR/VR goggles, I’m out, no thanks and I also think that I need to move to a 5 year upgrade cycle on my Macintosh computers, a 3 year cycle on my iPads and iPhones and a 3 year cycle on AppleWatch. Purchasing a new iPad every 2 years and iPhone every year is too often and far too expensive. Just Sunday, I added AppleCare to my iPhone XS. I hadn’t done that since the iPhone 6s when I decided to just succumb to Verizon’s 12 month upgrade plan where you agree to pay the phone off in 24 months and in 12 months, you can upgrade. I decided to run that game plan for 4 years and skip AppleCare but the iPhone XS is finally a phone that I do think I’ll keep for at least 2 years and possibly 3. 

So if Apple’s goal is to make their product last longer, I’m all for it but they’re partially doing it by raising prices which I really don’t agree with. And if you’e like me and always want to own the latest Apple Hardware, it’s now an impossible chore, one that most people can’t possibly keep up with. If I upgraded all of my Apple Hardware every year, I’d do nothing but buy Apple hardware and eat ramen every meal. It’s already a difficult task being a home owner and Apple fanboy. 

Looking at these figures again, I’m not even sure if I want to publish this.