What’s something worth?
My iPhone X retails for $1,000 at the Apple store. That’s a lot. It’s one of the most expensive mobile phones on the market and it could be argued it’s at the top of the expense heap. And yet, if that were a high-end DAC or power amplifier it would be on the extreme low end. And, what’s tough about that equation is the level of technology and parts in an iPhone is a magnitude more expensive and sophisticated than any DAC.
Now, it should be noted that millions of iPhones are manufactured each year compared to thousands of DACs. Economies of scale certainly play a big role in pricing. That said, the chasm between an expensive DAC and a technological wonder like the iPhone cannot be explained entirely by scale.
Pricing strategies have a myriad of formula. Some are priced according to marketplace expectations, some a fixed formula of parts and labor. Still others are boastful of being the most expensive, or the cheapest.
When I judge value I look at a lot of factors: importance of the product to me, other models in the market, need, scarcity or abundance, the company story and its founder’s philosophies.
What a product is worth is up to each buyer and its value to them, not what’s necessarily fair or equitable to charge.
The poet Robert Frost wrote, “good fences make good neighbors”. If you’d never read his poem, Mending Wall, you might think he liked fences. You would be wrong. The poem is actually about the opposite.
One of the dichotomies of product design is about fences. It’s a problem faced by companies as big as Microsoft and Apple (Apple likes fences, Microsoft not so much), and as small as PS Audio (we’re on the fence about it to make a pun).
Interface fences are needed. Boundaries and standards are set to ensure the proper interface of equipment with the outside world. As in any neighborhood, we all have to agree on some level or sources would not interface with preamps and amps.
One of my readers cried out when I suggested an end-to-end system approach to building our new loudspeakers. “But I like to mix and match equipment. It’s part of the fun of our hobby.” Indeed, our customers run the gamut from tear-the-walls-down tweakers to folks who like their fences.
There’s no way to keep everyone happy. This we know. I think the secret to great products lies in the notion of maintaining outside accessibility of equipment while, at the same time, offering a PS-specific connection scheme. It’s an idea that’s been bubbling in me for some time. Not fully formed yet, but slowly creeping in.
Good fences make good neighbors as long as they aren’t impenetrable walls.