The iPhone X costs more than any phone Apple has ever sold, starting at $1,000 a pop. But Apple expects people will buy truckloads of them anyways, according to the company’s earnings release today, and CEO Tim Cook seems to believe you can afford one, too, because if you break a monthly payment plan down, it’s “less than a coffee a day at one of those expensive coffee places.”
And Cook is right. A fully-loaded iPhone X will cost you about $56 a month through Apple’s upgrade program, and that breaks down to less than two bucks a day. But by Cook’s logic, why not charge $2,000 for a phone? That’s less than four bucks a day—the price I pay for a small latte in New York. Don’t get me started on the premium I pay for iced drinks, or the $1 extra I have to pay for goddamn soy.
Apple is banking on making more money than ever before over the coming holidays—it’s estimated it will make as much as $87 billion in revenue in three months, the vast majority of which will come from phones, and plenty of which will plausibly come from the iPhone X, which finally breaks Apple’s pattern of merely updating the components of the iPhone 6.
But looking at the price of the X like this abstracts the real cost. Who would commit ahead of time to paying $1,000 for a couple years’ worth of coffee? Yet here I am. Tomorrow, I will receive a new iPhone X, and just this morning, I paid $4 for an iced coffee from a cold brew drip tower.
In 2007, when Apple first announced the iPhone, Steve Ballmer famously exclaimed his disbelief: “$500! Fully subsidized with a plan?” More than a billion iPhones later, Ballmer’s shock is so outdated it’s cute—and Apple is again pushing the limits of what people will pay for a phone. This may not be the end of it, either. For all we know, Apple may find yet another way to increase the cost of its phones next year. If the company’s estimates for this quarter say anything, it’s that Apple believes one thing: It hasn’t crashed into the ceiling just yet. People will absolutely shell out for a $1,000 phone.