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Apple’s 1 basic storage mistake – a smoke-screen or a harsh reality?

Headlines aren’t always to be trusted – sadly that’s the case with Apple’s entry prices…

Apple and their storage options

Don’t believe the hype

Apple are masters of publicity.

New products are backed up by slick presentations, pre-recorded events, beautiful product photography and carefully crafted press releases. I am every bit as much of a sucker as the next person for all the hype – I fully admit it, but every once in a while it’s worth just standing back and taking an honest look at what’s going on.

Last week I wrote about our constant need and desire for new razzle-dazzle software features and functions. Falling just behind that hunger is our insatiable appetite for hardware. Quicker, slimmer, faster – we want it all and woe betide Apple should they ever put up their prices. We want and Apple tries to deliver…but there is one area they fail us on time and again – the invisible one of storage.

Read between the lines

One common, even age-old complaint is that of entry-level storage options that Apple still offers on their base models.

Those last two words are important as it is always the base-level Macs, iPhones and iPads that Apple push when they talk money. As much as cloud storage is now commonplace it’s wrong that we should be relying on it or factoring it in when buying our new devices.

Apple’s operating systems themselves are way more bloated now than ever and many apps demand some decent space too. And that’s before you start to weigh in with podcasts, photos, videos, movies and music. Make no mistake on-device storage matters.

A closer look

Flicking through some of Apple’s more popular products today proves my point that Apple is still pretty stingy with storage on the more competitive, lower-priced options.

Spend £649 on the M2 Mac mini and you’ll only get 256GB of storage. The latest ‘new’ 15-inch MacBook Air also comes with 256GB of storage at a £1399 price point.

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch model (£1249) & the iPhone 14 Pro Max (£1199) both come packed with a miserly 128GB.

Of course, these figures and numbers only offer half the story – it’s when you start ticking the boxes to add storage, you get hit hard. For instance, doubling up on the entry option on the Mac mini will cost you £200. Even worse is the 10th gen iPad. There, jumping from the 64GB entry option to a more realistic and usable 256GB will cost you a whopping £180.

Although different eras, this subject is close to my heart. My first Mac – a MacBook Air from about 2010 had a bad taste to it. Getting it home from the store and setting it up, it didn’t have enough storage for my iTunes library.

Pulling us in

I get where Apple is coming from with these specs.

Offering iPads, Mac minis, iPhones and MacBook Airs at realistic prices throws open the doors to those eager to get into the world of Apple – I was one of them a decade back. But that’s only half the story – Apple also needs happy contented customers too.

My first experience wasn’t great, but maybe I wasn’t a typical punter – I really wanted it to work at all costs. But say you just buy a device to do a job for you and then find out you’re rapidly running out of storage…that situation is all too common and must leave a bad taste.

I forecast the news last week that Apple was about to cross the threshold to be valued at $3 trillion which proves above all else that they know how to make money. Part of that money-making model is centred around what we are chatting about today.

If Apple can attract new customers to their brand with an ‘affordable’ entry-level model then that is the first strike. But then if the staff in store can convince you that more storage would be a great idea that is strike two. Apple suddenly makes a profit on the hardware sale and some very healthy profit on the storage upgrade too.

The bottom line

Apple silicon was another marker that the bottom line was to be protected at all costs.

We all know of the massive markups that Apple makes on storage upgrades. Going back to the 15-inch MacBook Air for instance jumping up from the 256Gb basic to 1TB of storage will cost you £400 with Apple where as Sandisk Extreme 1TB external SSD drive from Amazon costs only £100! I know it’s not quite the same but it goes someway to graphically explaining quite how much profit Apple makes on storage upgrades.

And the reason I mentioned Apple silicon making matters even worse is that now with SoC chips in all Apple devices, it means you have to get your choices right at the point of purchase – there are no retro upgrade options, not even from Apple technicians.

That puts you in a tough place. If you risk going with the cheapest option on your MacBook and you get it wrong, then you are resigned to a life spent with an SSD hanging from the side of your sleek new machine – exactly what I had to endure with that first MacBook Air, so I’ve lived that painful reality.

A way out

I get I am in no position to offer Apple, the most highly valued company in the world any advice – yet I’m going to!

I know profit is king. When you’re a company the size of Apple much hangs on them hitting targets. Economies, livelihoods and stock markets all rely on stellar companies like Apple performing. But…

With Apple silicon meaning what you buy is what you get and storage being so cheap, would it be the end of the world to not offer any laptops with less than 512GB of storage and iPads with at least 128GB? To still be offering an iPad with 64GB in 2023 seems wrong.

The prices of these entry Apple products surely wouldn’t have to be hiked much if at all and the increased level of overall customer satisfaction would be raised. After all a happy customer is a returning customer, right and as the tough times pass that is exactly what Apple will need.

And there would be one other rub from bumping up the entry storage options too – it would help reduce the number of products on sale. Even for someone like me that follows Apple closely, the range is sometimes baffling & bloated. Don’t forget, one of the first things Steve Jobs did upon his return was to slim down the range of products on sale.

Times were different then of course as Apple was trying hard to stave off closing the doors on the company for good. Sometimes though lessons can be learned from taking a look at your past.

Wrapping up

Perhaps there is never a good time to wave goodbye to easy money but one eye always needs to be kept on the ever-evolving economic climate and customer brand loyalty.

Sales are down for Apple across many of its platforms, which is why we see them turning to services to buoy slumps in device purchases.

All this makes me wonder if would there ever be a better time for Apple to bite the bullet and give us all a little something of what we want. As much as they constantly try to tease and tempt us with new functions, features and products, sometimes the most obvious answer to securing happiness is the simplest one.

I doubt it’ll become a reality but that won’t stop me from sticking to my guns. The arms in the storage wars could be laid to rest for once and for all. A bit of goodwill sometimes goes a long way.

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