Hilariously mis-understood marketing message
With all the amazing products and software updates unveiled at Apple’s WWDC 2019, you’d think the viral meme would be something related. You’d be wrong. The trending topic for the first several days was… the monitor stand.
More specifically, the price of the monitor stand. Before you get really confused, it’s more the fact that the price was quoted separately, not a usual thing in general for monitor pricing. But this is no usual monitor.
As the name implies: The Pro Display XDR is meant for professional use. Hence the fairly hefty 5k price tag. So far, no big deal, right? Had Apple just announced a professional monitor, comparable in specs to pro monitors costing upwards of forty thousand dollars for 6k$, we’d probably have seen articles lauding them for creating thirty-four thousand in “savings”.
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Lots of Bunk that needs De-Bunking
Further, if they had announced that the $6,000 monitor could be purchased “sans stand” for only 5k$, again, it’s all good. Instead, it was accidentally implied that the average-joe (who wants to buy a professional stand) would have to pay 5k$ for the screen and then another 1k$ for the “optional” stand.
Once this was announced scribes and haters all across the land began to decry the injustice to the world that this “arrogant” company would have the nerve to charge “as much as an iPhone XS”for nothing but a chunk of metal.
The race was on to compile the most outrageous comparisons: “you can buy an entire gaming PC for the price!”, wrote one, “it’s everything wrong with Apple today“, screamed another. After many such articles, each more ridiculous than the last, the “grown ups” began to chime in.
Digital Deflation is a Tricky Business
Finally, it was pointed out that professional video or film editing businesses, the folks for whom this stand was designed and priced, tend to have studio edit bays custom built for the purpose of high end editing, processing and color correcting, among other professional activities.
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These bays, generally designed by a high tech professional architect, who costs himself, many times the “outrageous” $999, and monitor screens (you know, those forty thousand dollar ones mentioned by apple in the presentation), are generally wall mounted or set up on proprietary house-owned stands that go for far more than $999. The bays also have professional lighting design (to prevent visual inaccuracies when evaluating high end content), and, more often than not, really cool (read: expensive), furniture.
The plot thickens…
So, wait, what was really announced is that those same pros described above could opt-out of a monitor stand they do not need and save the much whined about $999? You don’t say. How nice those Apple folks are. So thoughtful. Trying to help rich folks avoid paying $999 for a stand that will end up in a storage room.
Why so misunderstood then, if this is all so obvious? Digital Deflation. Yes, that nasty sounding trend that has changed the world around us for more than 25 years.
History of cost reduction to zero dollars
To make sense of this hilarious tale, it seems, we have to first go back. Waaaay Baaack. All the way to around 1996. At that time there was no 8k video to edit, let alone multiple streams of said 8k. Nevertheless, a professional workstation, absolutely necessary at the time to do any non-linear editing or EFX, would set you back around $100,000+. And those monitors? They’d likely be CRT and still cost 50k or some ungodly number.
Many of the processes that were routinely required in editing, color correcting and EFX generation could not be achieved on any computer or software alone. Everything had hardware add-ons, tally up another 50k here and 50k there.
So, once again, why the huge misunderstanding?
Fast forward to 2019. Your iPhone can shoot excellent 4k video anywhere, anytime, since it’s already in your pocket. Cost: zero additional dollars after owning the phone.
Add to that software, if you are on a budget you can forego the daunting challenge of coughing up a couple of hundred dollars to buy Final Cut Pro (there’s that pesky “Pro” again in the name), and go with Blackmagic Design’s “DaVinci Resolve” software, which happens to include excellent non-linear editing, EFX generation and management, color correction and much more. Price tag? For the functioning entry level version, zero dollars. For added professional functionality, a few hundred dollars.
Bottom line, if you already have an iPhone and some kind of Mac, zero dollars.
Tricky Business, Indeed
Here’s where it really gets crazy. Apple, and other tech companies, have, in essence, engendered this deflation by reducing the costs of everything needed for digital media creation, at a higher and higher level to, practically, zero$.
Great, right? Well, not entirely. It seems that when the cost of production nears zero, the monetization of the fruits of creation head south even faster. Translation? It’s damn hard to get paid if you are a freelancer producing and editing digital media products. Only the highest level creators (Hollywood Heavyweights, top of the charts, you get the idea) can garner much of anything, and, of course, they can afford many times that $999 for fruit toppings at breakfast.
Everyone else (a.k.a. “the rest of us”) live in side-hustle hell. Hence the moans, groans, and whining over the “dream” of having $999 to spare for a monitor stand.
So, to re-cap, the same people who were “gifted” by massive advances in technical capabilities spearheaded by apple, to the point where millions of dollars of production overhead for hardware was reduced to almost zero, were also victims of an unemployment epidemic, unleashed by the “barriers to entry” for their chosen profession being reduced to… wait for it… zero.
And, yea, by the way, all this applies double to writers working for digital media outlets. So let the angst flow freely next time an arrogant monolithic company has the audacity to release a pro product at a pro price. I feel ya, Dog, I really do.
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