I was cruising through my tweet stream today, and I ran across yet another wildly annoying reference to a ‘developing’, ‘rumored’, or ‘alleged’ (use whatever adjective you want) situation at Apple. This time around, the guys at GDGT are reporting on a potential issue with slide-on cases for the iPhone 4G. Apparently debris could get trapped behind the case and damage the glass – the potential effects range from light scratching all the way to shattered glass, according to the GDGT guys. And guess what they’ve named this? Yep, it’s ‘Glassgate’. Whether or not this turns out to be a real issue, can we please stop ending everything with Gate? It’s the name of a hotel, damn it!
Besides, the really interesting detail in the GDGT article was that Apple gets a rev slice of all accessories designed specifically for iPhones, iPads and iPods. Here’s the quote:
“…Apple also officially licenses third-party companies to make accessories for its various products (which are designated MFI, as in: "Made for iPhone," "Made for iPad," "Made for iPod," etc.), often selling those accessories in its Apple Stores. Although the numbers have never been disclosed, Apple supposedly gets 10-15% off the top of all officially licensed MFI accessories (in recent years this has said to have changed to a flat rate per accessory).”
And beyond that, Apple has a whole other lever to pull on these companies – the pure power of their retail operations. The Holy Grail of distribution for these accessory makers is shelf space inside the Apple Store. So beyond the 10-15% cut outlined above, Apple can still buy them at wholesale and mark ‘em up. Pretty good work if you can get it.
Regardless of your opinion of Apple, you gotta give them some serious business cred for figuring out how to monetize virtually every corner of their ecosystem. 10% on cases, 30% on iTunes songs and apps, and a reported $2/click cost basis inside iAd. They literally print money, which funds fun little escapades like building a billion-dollar datacenter in rural North Carolina that will probably change the face of streaming media. For the opposite end of the intelligence spectrum, make sure to check out Cisco’s new $600 consumer video chat system.
But the next time something goes wrong (at Apple or with angel investors or anywhere), let’s find another catch phase. How about ‘Who’ from the Dr. Seuss classic ‘Horton Hears A Who’? We could have problems with the Who-tenna or celebrate the next Who-centenntial. Or maybe the Mayor from the movie just knows the real truth: “starting everything with ‘Who’ doesn’t make it hurt less, it just wastes time.”