Comment What's the point of Apple's $17,000 Christometer then? Apart from, you know, vulgar money?
There's been a certain amount of quiet coughing and choking among the fanbois over the new Apple Watch Edition's Christometer's tag of $17,000 at the top end.
That's a whole heap of Benjamins for a wrist computer, most especially as the actual innards are going to be exactly the same as the one that can be had for roughly $16,700 less.
While gold does cost rather more than plastic – perhaps $1,199 per ounce more than plastic – there's not actually that much gold in the thing to make up the difference. So what in buggery is driving this price difference?
Well, if we're to be honest about it, it's because Apple's pretty certain there's enough people out there stupid enough to buy one to make it worthwhile. There is also the fact that enough people doing so drags up the perceived value of all of the Apple watches.
Although we should, as the good little economists that we all are, point out that paying $17,000 for an expensive piece of bling is not actually stupid. There's two approaches to explaining why not: the first is the concept of a Veblen Good. This is something that is desirable simply because it is expensive. It really has no function other than to tell other people that you have $17,000 to spend upon a piece of bling. We can, with our logical thinking caps on, decide that is indeed stupid.
Yet, to a dual-sex species like human beings, one where mating opportunities for the male come from perceptions of social status, displaying said status really isn't a stupid thing to do. One friend of mine who worked out East (before his marriage, of course, you understand) said that his gold Rolex was the cheapest and most effective love potion he'd ever managed to find - and its absence, at times, the best contraceptive he ever had.
This is not, by the way, a reflection of mores out East; rather that Veblen Goods hold more power the more unequal a society is.