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The Hidden Cost of Your Technology Buying Decisions

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Last week, I came across an interesting CNET article, Should I break up with my iPhone for Nokia's Lumia 900? The article is a mailbag format, where people Ask Maggie questions about cell phones and pricing plans. In this case, Maggie is asking herself a question, whether it is worth switching to the new Windows Lumia 900 or get the new iPhone 4S.

Maggie has used the Nokia Lumia phone and admits that she likes it. At one point she notes, "In fact, I think I'd say that it's even easier to use than an iPhone, which may sound like heresy to some Apple fangirls and boys out there." It also is a high-end phone with all the premium features. However, you know I wouldn't write about it unless a financial factor was part of the decision. Maggie breaks it down:

"But the most attractive thing about the Lumia 900 is the price. AT&T is selling the device, which has 16GB of storage, for $99 with a two-year contract. Meanwhile Apple's iPhone 4S, now six months old, would cost me $200 for the 16GB model. The price difference is only $100, but with Apple's extended AppleCare warranty, the difference is really $200. Given that my last iPhone didn't make it a full two years before it died, that's definitely something I should consider."

So it seems like a no-brainer, right? It's the cheaper and better phone. This has got to be one of the easiest questions Maggie has ever fielded. Not so fast...

Maggie goes on to explain why it isn't so easy in a section called, "Apple's stranglehold on my life." Specifically she says:

"But sadly now I'm feeling a bit stuck with Apple. I'd like to check out other smartphone platforms, but doing so is going to require some work on my part. Like many who have been sucked into Apple's clutches, it was innocent in the beginning. The iPod was so simple to use. And iTunes, while not the best user interface or music service, was also simple and safe at a time when I was too much of a scaredy-cat to be downloading or sharing music illegally.

Initially, I didn't realize the commitment I was making. I didn't think about the fact that I was locking myself into a platform for the rest of my life. But with each new product I bought from Apple, the deeper I fell into the borg. And now I feel like it would be painful to break up with Apple. Not because I love the products or company so much, but because it would be a huge pain in the butt to transfer all my stuff to a new platform."

There lies the hidden cost of your technology buying decisions. A decision that Maggie made years ago, has come back to haunt her wallet. This is why, whenever I buy into technology, I always factor in the decision to migrate away from the technology. I ask myself, "If this company were to disappear or become prohibitively expensive, am I in a position to switch to something else?"

In the end Maggie makes the decision to stick with Apple and only get pulled deeper into the Borg: "At the end of the day, I was impressed with the Lumia 900. I like the Windows Phone OS. And I definitely liked the $99 price tag from AT&T. But for someone like me who is already locked into Apple, it's simply not worth it to go through the struggle of re-establishing my life in Windows Phone for this device."

This time the $200 wasn't enough. I wonder if she's factoring that $200 every couple of years that she remains locked in.

Posted on April 16, 2012.

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4 Responses to “The Hidden Cost of Your Technology Buying Decisions”

  1. I’m a Mac guy and have been for years. For me, the up front cost is worth it, when amortized over the 8ish years I’ll own a computer. The extra cost is about the same as a candy bar every week. I deal with Windows at work (IT analysts); I’ll happily sacrifice a candy bar every week to avoid it at home.

    However, that doesn’t mean that I’m locked into Apple for my other purchasing decisions. My portable cell phone is a dumb phone (I’m on call and can’t afford the short battery life of smart phones), my portable WiFi device is a used Palm Pre (use it for WiFi only = no data cost), and I recently ordered a Roku to stream video to a TV. I own a Kindle and buy my eBooks from Amazon, not Apple.

    In each of these cases, there was an Apple product in the niche, but I opted for something cheaper. For a computer, it’s make sense (for me) to pay a few extra bucks, but not for the other devices. Take the Roku, for example … most of the time I use it, I’ll be clicking a few buttons and then completely ignoring it for a few hours while the movie runs. While it’s true that the Pre isn’t integrated with iTunes, it’s not difficult to copy the MP3s over by hand.

  2. […] Man presents The Hidden Cost of Your Technology Buying Decisions posted at Lazy Man and Money, saying, Whenever I buy into technology, I always factor in the […]

  3. […] knows if the price of the iPhone hits the right price on Virgin Mobile, maybe I'll join the Apple Borg as […]

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