Posts tagged “price”.

The case of the 50mm f/1.8 price shuffle

February 11th, 2011

It’s a strange thing to try and wrangle the perfect prize for something you’re after on Amazon.com.

With my new camera, I keep hearing that a prime lens is the way to go. Easy, no fuss, all about framing – stick on a prime lens, forget about zooming, and start taking pictures. For my needs, it’s hard to argue with Canon’s “nifty fifty” 50mm f/1.8 lens, the cheapest lens they offer at about $100.

One hundred dollars is not a big deal. But is $125? Or $119? Depending on what time of day or day of the week you check the nifty fifty’s listing on Amazon, you could pay any one of those prices.

50mm picture

My target price was $99, as seen above. This, combined with a gift card I received over Christmas, would put the 50mm in a very affordable range – especially for a rookie like me.

So I waited. And then…

50mm pic

Not more than a week later, the price jumps 20% to $120.

“Well,” I think to myself. “No sense in buying it for that price, even with my Amazon.com gift card.”

So I check Canon’s own refurbished lens listings to see if I could save any money there. The 50mm is prices very competitely at $80, which – when you combine my Amazon.com gift card and the new, higher price – makes it an appealing option. Sure, the lense is refurbished, but lenses don’t wear out like cameras do.

But by the time you figure in shipping, Canon’s refurbished price isn’t as much of a savings over the Amazon.com price. So I recheck Amazon’s listing.

50mm pic3

And what do you know – a $5 drop in price. So within a few days, the price for a Canon 50mm cheap-o lense rises and falls like a bouncy ball: unpredictable, wacky, and hard to catch it at the right time. Some Amazon users have experienced this price switch even after they add something to their cart. Amazon confirms this behavior as standard practice:

Items in your Shopping Cart will always reflect the most recent price displayed on the item’s product detail page. This price may differ from the price shown for the item when you first placed it in your cart. Placing an item in your cart doesn’t reserve the price shown at that time. It is also possible that an item’s price may decrease between the time you place it in your cart and the time you purchase it.

But they offer little in the way of explaining these ghost prices.

Finally, about a week ago, I watched the 50mm price rise and fall for an entire day until it hit $99 again, and then quickly hit the “Add to Cart” button. Might as well catch it while I can, I figured, and not be a slave to market conditions any more.

But what are those marketing conditions? And what logic do they follow?

50mm grey market

Complicating things was this “grey market” model of the same lens, on sale for $108. What was this thing doing in the Amazon.com store? What is its function?

The best I can put together, and from my past experiences with buying from Amazon (side note: I always use bloggers’ affiliate link, and I recommend that you do, too, to help out your favorite writers), it has something to do with Amazon.com using different suppliers from around the country. If one supplier runs out of, say, my 50mm lens, Amazon switches gears to another supplier who might charge a higher price.

“Supply and demand, you dummy,” I thought to myself. “This is straight economics.”

Reading Amazon’s own statement on shipping gives some clues:

Retailers like Amazon have the legal right to set their own prices independently, but some manufacturers place restrictions on how those prices may be communicated. Because our price on this item is lower than the manufacturer’s “minimum advertised price,” the manufacturer does not allow us to show you our price until you take further action, such as placing the item in your shopping cart, or in some cases, proceeding to the final checkout stage. The steps required depend on the details of the manufacturer’s minimum advertised price policy. Taking these steps allows Amazon to show you our price consistent with our goal of always offering you the lowest possible prices on the widest selection of products.

Right. So it’s all a shell game of sorts.

For me, it’s standard practice to him and haw over an item for weeks before actually purchasing the thing. Somehow, looking at an item over and over again helps me make consumer decisions. But it’s because of this behavior that I noticed Amazon’s goofy pricing switcheroo.

Knowing this, my neurosis is bound to get worse. If I’m never sure the price I’m paying is the lowest price possible, what sense can be applied to the world around me? It’s frightening in the deepest, most horrifyingly existential way.

Perhaps the point, in the end, is that I got the lens at the lowest price, I was able to take advantage of the my Amazon gift card, and I’ve been very satisfied with the results.

But now there’s an edge to my Amazon shopping that wasn’t there before. Am I getting the best price? Better check later…

The Mac’s value fraction

May 12th, 2009

Seth Godin on price in a recession:

Of course, people actually care more about value. They care about value more than they used to because they can’t afford to overpay, they don’t want to make a mistake with their money.

…The thing is, there’s another way to make the value go up. Increase what you give. Increase quality and quantity and the unmeasurable pieces that bring confidence and joy to an interaction.

When all of your competitors are busy increasing value by cutting prices, you can actually increase market share by increasing value and raising benefits.

I’d call iLife, superior build quality, and innovation values, wouldn’t you? And those “unmeasurable pieces” are what Apple specialize in.

In PC makers race to the bottom price-wise, they lose a lot of what makes owning a computer so special: the “confidence and joy” Godin mentions.

Quote of the day:

October 24th, 2008

I’m more convinced than ever that, after an initial frenzy of publicity and sales to early adopters, iPhone sales will be unspectacular. If Apple doesn’t respond quickly by lowering the price and making nice to AT&T, which surely will be ticked off, iPhone may well become Apple’s next Newton.

From David Haskin of Computerworld.

And how do you feel now, Mr. Haskin?

[Courtesy of MacDailyNews's iPhone quote roundup.]

News you can use: refurb 80 GB iPod price drops

August 13th, 2008

Good news: Apple has dropped refurbished iPod Classic prices on the 80 GB model to $179, down from $199 only a week ago.

I’m always scanning the Apple Store’s refurb list for deals, and this one’s a doozy. It makes me wonder: does the price drop signal something? A clearing-out of inventory, perhaps, in anticipation of something on the horizon?

iPod Nano refurbs are cheaper these days, too, while iPod Shuffles are stuck at $10 under retail. When Apple dropped the Shuffle prices, the refurbs took a few days to catch up with the new pricing scheme.

So what do you think? Is something new coming? Or is this just a fabulous deal?

AAPL investors are demented and depraved.

April 23rd, 2008

Today I learned that, really, I know nothing about investing.

I reached this conclusion earlier today after, despite all the good news that came our way earlier this week, the word “caution” was thrown around on investing sites like a circus midget.

All this before Apple released its second quarter report:

On Tuesday, Shaw Wu, of American Technology Research, cut his rating on Apple’s stock to neutral from buy. Wu called the move “a very tough decision as we have been bullish on Apple for the past several years.” Wu said he had concerns over the run-up in Apple’s share price after it rose more than 45% in the last two months, saying the stock is “no longer inexpensive” as it traded at 32 times his 2008 calendar year earnings estimate of $5.30 a share. Wu also said there is a chance Apple could experience a product “vacuum” as it prepares to launch new products late in the summer, such as a refreshed line of Mac computers and the anticipated launch of a third-generation iPhone that will run on a faster network that AT&T Inc.’s current network.

So, am I to understand that this kind of “concern” comes from…what…Apple being too successful? Or a calm before the 3G iPhone storm?

I just don’t get it. Yesterday it was “Buy AAPL!” Today’s it’s “well, shares are no longer inexpensive” and “results might not meet expectations.”

What we can all learn is that anyone who puts their brain on AAPL stock immediately loses all sense of focus, self, and sanity. Some call it “volatile,” I call it, “we just did some acid and got on E-trade to mess around.” It makes no sense.

That E-trade baby? The one who pukes and jokes and hangs out with clowns? Even that’s funny compared to this.

And I’m not looking at this as a concerned investor who might get his money back after a stupid gamble. What I don’t understand is how a company’s self-worth is determined by one guy whose quotes enter the financial echo chamber and amnesia sets in – much as a black-out drunk forgets the night before – and everyone behaves as if the day before never even happened.

Have these people no sense of decency? Is this why Alka-Seltzer does so well in the American marketplace? Is it any wonder why Prozac remains in production?

Speaking of Prozac, I think mine’s wearing off…

We’ll see how the shit-fit settles in tomorrow’s market. In the meantime, consider my investing waywardness and day-trading daydreams officially over.

Analysts: AAPL stocks could climb higher.

April 21st, 2008

Apple's (AAPL) stock price could keep going up.

More good news (after Friday’s good news) on the price of AAPL.

Today was a great day, with the Apple’s stock price jumping a few dollars before they release their quarterly statement later this week.

MarketWatch.com says Apple’s statement will be one of the most “greatly-anticipated”:

Since Apple gave its update, the stock has mounted a comeback, rising more than 16% to almost $162 as feelings have grown more positive about the odds that the company will soon release a third-generation, or 3G version of the iPhone, and that sales of Macintosh computers will continue to rise.

Reports of the “imminent” 3G iPhone have been coming at us non-stop for the past few weeks – just in time to satisfy my iPhone fast (as in food, not speed).

And just think: Apple’s stock price at the close of the day they killed the Newton? A bit over $23. My, how far we’ve come.

According to Appleturns.com, the crash we saw in January is something that happens almost every time Apple announces a super quarter. Weird, huh?

Forbes.com quotes an analyst that brags the 10 million iPhone number will be no problem – which is good, because iPod interest may be slacking off. Except for the iTouch. That still has “steady demand.”

Even Dell is doing better than expected, after the doom-and-gloom story of its stock price for the past year.

So a good day for technology, and a better day for a guy who was scared his pre-Macworld experiment would crash and burn. It’s nice that investors, even with the economy tanking, feel that just about anything Apple touches is still lust-worthy. Macs are taking off like we’ve always hoped. iPhones are just as popular as we dreamed.

And the stock price? Well, it may just hit $190 after all. I have no experience or expertise in investing or stock prices, but I know hope when I see it.

The price of everything, AAPL included.

April 20th, 2008

AAPL is looking up.

Thank goodness for good Fridays on the stock market.

After my little experiment, and the tumble it took, every little bit helps.

I’ve been watching Apple’s stock creep up from $125 to $140, and now to a comfy $161. Some days I don’t even like to look. But Friday I did. A few more rallies like that I’ll recoup whatever I lost from January.

Beware of darkness.

January 23rd, 2008

Apple stock prices fall.

Whoops.

Turns out the recent price drop in Apple stock is a good lesson in day trading.

I wasn’t too worried, even after yesterday’s stock market weirdness. But then last night investors dumped their Apple stock in after-hours trading.

So much for my great idea to cash in before Macworld.

So my five shares are worth about $50 less than they were a week ago, but I’m not going to panic. Investing is long-term, and it’s the false Apple fan that dumps his stock on the first sign of bad news. Sure, it’s the economy stupid, but it’s also Apple. They find a way back.