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Responding to Complaints, Apple Drops Adapter and Monitor Prices

Many Apple fans have been irked by how the new line of MacBook Pro laptops offers only Thunderbolt 3 ports (which are backward compatible with USB-C). To connect to existing peripherals, users will require one or more adapters, such as those for USB-A, DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, and even older implementations of Thunderbolt. See “Explaining Thunderbolt 3, USB-C, and Everything In Between” (3 November 2016) for a thorough explanation.

Apple doesn’t get any points for thinking ahead, but happily, the company does appear to be responding to the waves of criticism. According to the Loop, Apple is dropping prices on many of its adapters through the end of 2016. Affected products include:

  • USB-C to USB Adapter: from $19 to $9
  • Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter: from $49 to $29
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable (1m): from $25 to $19
  • USB-C to Lightning Cable (2m): from $35 to $29
  • USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter: from $69 to $49
  • USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter: from $69 to $49

Apple is also discounting other USB-C products sold in the company’s online store, such as the SanDisk Extreme Pro SD UHS-II Card USB-C Reader, which drops from $49 to $29.

If you purchased any of these adapters in the past 14 days — Apple’s return window — the company may automatically credit you for the difference in price; Adam Engst got email from Apple about that after the initial publication of this article. If you don’t hear from Apple in a few days, I recommend calling them and asking for a partial refund. I did that and obtained a $30 refund for my USB-C to USB Adapter and my Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter.


MacRumors reports that Apple has also cut the price of the LG UltraFine 5K Display, which it developed with LG, from $1299 to $974 until the end of 2016. Also, Apple slashed the price of the LG UltraFine 4K Display from $699 to $524. The 5K Display isn’t yet available for sale but should launch in December 2016.

Apple could have avoided the entire hullaballoo by including an adapter or two in the box with new MacBook Pros or giving customers the option to receive the adapter of their choice for free when ordering. Instead, Apple came off as trying to nickel-and-dime its most eager customers, who were already spending significant sums on the company’s latest gear. And even still, dropping the prices only through the end of 2016 seems stingy, given that Apple’s adapters and cables are almost always the most expensive by far.

 

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Comments about Responding to Complaints, Apple Drops Adapter and Monitor Prices
(Comments are closed.)

The one cable that absolutely should have been in there is the Type C to type A adapter, but a USB-C lightening cable should also have been included. As it stands if you buy a laptop and a Magic Mouse you have to pay another $9 just to be able to charge it.
I also wish they had a MagSafe to TB3 adapter, as the MagSafes weren't cheap and still work well. Maybe someone else will be able to pull that off with a shallow rough port that it could stay plugged in.
dbrugger  2016-11-04 21:27
Quite frankly, Apple has stopped being Apple for the last two machine re-dos, dropping things and adding things as if they were Microsoft software. Waiting for a new laptop, I feel betrayed and that Apple is changing for the sake of changing without any very real innovation. I'm on the search for old refurbished models that have what I want and need. Too bad!
Unfortunately I have to agree. As sad as it is.
Reinard Schmitz   2016-11-05 05:15
Yep. Sadly I've to agree.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-11-08 21:01
Me too. Apple long since lost sight of their customers. In my book the trend began with OS X Lion, which bleached the color, and thus much of the utility (ease of use) out of the Finder window side bar. They only made the problem worse with OS X 10.10 Yosemite, when even more color, depth and usability bled away from the UI.

A year from now most the noise over the Thunderbolt 3 ports will have subsided as people adapt to the change. The expense of that adaptation, however, will not be forgotten and it is likely to drive up sales of used Macs. I recently got a good price on eBay for a unibody MacBook Pro, a line which, not coincidentally, is still user serviceable. I replaced the HDD with a comparably sized SSD for about $150 - and it connects to all my gear.

As for using adaptors, well, I got used to that problem while servicing MacBook Airs and 11" MacBook Pros, all of which have been short on ports from their inception. I've got Thunderbolt to this and that in my gadget bag. Now I'll have to add TB 3 to this and that. I'm just glad they didn't limit the number of ports any more radically than they did with the new MacBook Pros. Given the precedent set by the MacBook, it could have been worse.

Of course, Apple thinks everything can and should be done in the cloud now. But the cloud, particularly iCloud, is far from reliable and even less secure. But, hey, Apple couldn't care less how their imperfect solutions affect actual users. It's their policy and they're sticking with it.

Longterm my biggest concern for Apple is their unwillingness to develop a touch-screen PC. Because to do so, of course, would be to admit that Microsoft had a better idea. As far as technology trends go, this is a big one and Apple is ignoring it. Sure, a touch-screen Mac, particularly a laptop, would cut into iPad sales. But touch-screen Windows PCs are going to be shading Apple big time going forward. Adding a few bells and whistles, like the Touch Bar, to the MacBook Pro will not make up the difference. Microsoft ads for the Surface Pro may be obnoxious, but they are on point nonetheless. Touch-screen PCs are not a fad, like Netbooks, that Apple can safely dismiss. They are the future, a future in which Apple is unwilling to participate.

And now that Microsoft has introduced their touch-screen desktop computer, the Surface Studio, with a hinge mount that declines to emulate a drawing table (like a Wacom Cintiq), with a Surface Pen and Surface Dial, a high resolution 28" screen that matches the color gamut of the Cintiq, it won't be long before graphics professionals begin to look beyond their iMacs. As it is now you can use a Cintiq with your iMac if you're got room on your desk for the setup, but the Surface Studio will have a much smaller footprint, combining the utility of a capable computer with a large, adjustable, graphics tablet—at half the price.

Certainly things aren't going to change overnight, but to my mind the writing is on the wall. Apple's executives are far to insular, cut off from the every day working world of their users. Who would have thought, a decade ago, that Microsoft would be leading Apple in innovation?
I'm actually very happy they are refusing to do a touch-screen Mac.

One of Steve's strongest suits was recognizing what not to do and knowing when to stay simple. Apple's stance on this issue would have been the same under Steve and I'm very happy about that. No matter how many shiny ads MS puts out and no matter how much consumers think everything has to converge up to the point where your car is also your fridge.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-11-09 05:03
Glib remarks about cars and fridges don't enhance your argument. It's not about what consumers think, it's about what they buy. If they don't buy Macs, Apple is in trouble. QED.

As for what Steve would like or what he would do, he didn't like the idea of a small iPad or a big iPhone, but Apple is selling them both now. He didn't like dabbling in the enterprise, but Apple is working with IBM and Cisco to expand their footprint in business. Supposing that Steve would like what you like is, well, supply your own synonym for foolish.

Personally, I don't need or want a touch-screen computer. But what I want is less than insignificant. Nonetheless, I see the market moving to touch-screen PCs and Apple missing the boat. We're not talking fads here. As I mentioned, Apple made a small iPad when the market favored small tablets and they made large iPhones when the market was going that way. And they are moving into the enterprise to expand their role in business. Ultimately, whether or not to make a touch-screen Mac should be a rational business decision, not one guided by pride, vanity or sentiment.

As for simplicity, there's nothing simple about using two devices to do the work of one. Nor is there anything simple about Apple's multi-device, multi-OS market strategy these days. What, pray tell, is simple about iCloud? What's simple about all those Apple apps in your dock? Simplicity is a them trotted out when it suits Apple's purposes and ignored when it does not. It's a red herring—at best. There's nothing simple about Apple.
Pride or vanity has nothing to do with it at all.

Bottom line is macOS has been heavily optimized for mouse/KB. It would need substantial changes to make it touch friendly. I want Apple to focus that energy on making sure it remains the best OS for mouse/KB.

I don't want them to focus on adding something solely because supposedly many consumers are interested in that. Many consumers are also interested in Windows or McD. So what? Ignoring that crowd is not a problem as long as you remain more interested in product quality than in market share.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-11-09 13:17
I see. It's all about what you want. Thanks for the heads up.
dave nuss  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2016-11-04 21:47
Hi! I've seen this price reduction mentioned on several sites today but not mentioned and no email from Apple about those of us that forked over for new MBPs and dongles in the first minutes after the Hello Again... Do we get automagic refunds?
...
I see Adam called and got some refund so I went to Apple Chat and after some time got the same. Sad they didn't just automatically apply the credits, but I guess that's how they build up that cash pile.
Thanks for reporting this!
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-11-05 11:55
Josh was the one who called, but we also ordered an adapter last week, but I just got email from Apple saying they were refunding me automatically. I'll add that to the article.

B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-11-08 19:25
Of course not. They're not going to give away money. If you snooze, you lose.
Michel Hedley  2016-11-05 02:34
These expensive Apple connectors are not well designed. They are prone to breaking at the plug end. For all of Apple's prowess in design, Apple can't seem to design peripherals that are fit for purpose and make them rugged enough for every day use.
I'm really surprised by this move. Apple used to be very good at anticipating customer reaction. Now they come out a few days after the big launch and essentially declare they got the pricing all wrong. Has their marketing been taken over by a bunch of clowns? What have these guys been doing for the past months?

Josh is absolutely right in his final paragraph. They could have handled this so much better. When did Apple become so bad at this game?
They haven't admitted the pricing is wrong. They have TEMPORARILY lowered the price in the hopes that people shut the hell up about it and get it out of the mainstream news. Same goes with the 5K Display.

How convenient. They've lowered the price on items that you can't even use for another 3 to 5 weeks. By the time the MBPro actually ships, the price on these adapters and the 5K Display will go back up.
So what can be inferred form this surprising move?

Only days ago their propagandists were trying to spread this claim that early order numbers had been awesome like never before. Had the uptake indeed been that astronomical, would Apple leadership be willing to give up one cent of profit from all these de facto required adapters?

A guess would be orders are either low or they're worried they won't be selling enough new MBPs with all the bad press they're getting - much of which is related to the many dongles required and their ludicrous pricing.
It's also interesting to see they were forced to do this in connection with the new MacBook Pro.

This is the segment where there are a lot of pro users. People using their Macs for actual work, where productivity counts. People who are knowledgable about performance and technlology. People you can't just sway by releasing a fancy feel good campaign celebrating a new pink or gold color.

It seems they're a bit drunk with their success in selling expensive status symbols to teenagers in China. I'm surprised they obviously didn't realize they cannot sell to the pro crowd like they do to those people.
George Wade  2016-11-05 12:12
OTOH – foreseeing the problem requires a certain amount of guesswork; while just going ahead with delivery of the product results in marketplace demand for what is actually needed in the way of adapters, accessories and cables.

Do we demand that Apple use Artificial Intelligence to get a better match !
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-11-06 10:36
Determining that people would be unhappy about not being able to use any existing peripherals without buying extra dongles doesn't take an advanced degree. :-)
Scott M.  2016-11-08 03:05
Especially considering they did realize that people were going to be pissed about the lack of a headphone jack on the iPhone 7 and thus smartly included an adapter in the box with the iPhone 7 rather than nickel and diming people by forcing them to buy that adapter.

I supposed, however, that it could be argued that Apple had advanced warning since the idea of Apple killing the headphone jack had been "leaked" for at least a year before the iPhone 7 was released. Thus, Apple could not avoid hearing all the people complaining about the killing of the headphone jack before they actually did it. There was no such "advanced warning" for the all USB-C fiasco for Apple, at least as far as I can tell (I don't watch all the Apple rumors and such like you might...I only saw one article that suggested it might be possible, but not that it was really a leak).

One would think, however, that there is one senior/high level executive (any lower level drone likely would be ignored/steamrolled) that should have been able to put two coherent thoughts together to extrapolate that there might be a similar reaction to having to buy a "dongle" in order to use a run of the mill USB device with their new top of the line "Pro" laptop as there was to the idea of buy a "dongle" to use with their expensive headphones for a new iPhone. But, then maybe I am expecting too much of Apple senior executives these days.

And their "sale" on "dongles" does not help their image too much in my opinion. As someone else said, it kind of smacks of "here, have a discount...now we hope everyone will forget about it and we can go back to nickel and diming you". To me, the smart thing would have to just give all purchasers of new MacBook Pros (with the USB-C ports) at least 1 free USB-C to USB-A "dongle" with their order. Either just add it to the order for free automatically or included it in the box (after all, most of the new MBPs have not shipped yet). And for anyone who already got it, just ship them a free one (or refund them the full price if they ordered one). After all, while not every one needs Ethernet or used an external monitor or needs a Firewire "dongle", etc, I would argue that the vast majority of people at least use a flash drive or external drive or even use a USB printer. So, I would expect the vast majority of people make use of at least one USB-A device on a regular basis.

Of all the "miscues" that I believe they made with the new MBPs, this was the most unforgivable. And I even put this above Jony Ive's infatuation with form over function and his incessant need to make all Apple devices thinner just for that sake of making them thinner and sexier (I will stop there before I get my "rant on").
Dennis B. Swaney  2016-11-07 19:56
Those dongles are still excessively overpriced: none should cost more than $4.99 which would still give Apple several 100s percent profit.
Brian S  2016-11-07 20:22
I'm curious why Apple dropped the monitor prices. It doesn't appear related to the dongle fiasco.
Steve L'Heureux  2016-11-07 20:53
I have to say I feel Apple is entirely out of touch with it's older users. I'm 60 and have been with them since 1989. With as much as they charge for their gear, to keep Nickle and Diming us after they keep changing ports year after year is Fu**king pissing me off. I'm disgusted. I'm steering my clients to buy the older refurbs right now. Is it time for Phil Schiller to retire? Who the hell is driving the Apple Bus right now anyway??!! I have to think Steve J would be turning over in his grave right now. Geez, Apple is now even ceding control to Graphics creation to Microsoft with it's Surface Pro!! WTF??!! Who the hell is minding the Store??! Mr. Cook, are you paying attention?????
Curtis Wilcox  An apple icon for a Friend of TidBITS 2016-11-08 17:34
What do you mean, changing ports year-after-year? Before USB-C, what was the last change to a Mac connector? I think it was MagSafe 2 replacing MagSafe and that was four years ago, not that recently. That's also when MBPs dropped built-in Ethernet, which I do miss (I don't miss the optical drive).

Replacing USB 2 with USB 3, no downside. Replacing Thunderbolt with Thunderbolt 2, no downside. Replacing Mini DisplayPort with Thunderbolt, no downside.

Roughly eight years ago, Mini DisplayPort replaced all their other video connectors, pretty much guaranteeing you'd need a dongle to connect to an external display (until they added HDMI to MBPs). But it also cleared out the mish-mash of different connectors on different models; they had DVI, Mini-DVI, and Micro-DVI on different laptop models all in the same time frame! Mini DisplayPort didn't eliminate "dongle hell" but it did make it more sane.

Steve Jobs is the one who dropped all preceding connectors in favor of USB (for which there was not much adoption yet) and floppy drives on the original iMac, his is not a name to invoke when criticizing the forward-looking decision to go all-in on Thunderbolt 3/USB-C.
Openreels  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2016-11-07 23:23
Nothing new here, Apple's been changing interfaces on us for decades! At least when they introduced TBolt as THE ONE interface they also had a display with breakouts built in. Unfortunately it took quite some time for 3rd parties to bring out alternatives that were badly needed. That could happen again, but at least USB-C has big potential for the long-term (assuming anyone can understand it).

Guess I don't need to keep the old ADC video adapter cable any longer, or that crazy non-standard power cord...
dbrugger  2016-11-08 13:31
Price reductions don't make it. Put back what you took off so I don't need the adaptors. Then Apple will have made it right.
B. Jefferson Le Blanc  2016-11-09 15:28
The price of dongles is probably a side show for Apple. And, though I was surprised by the port configuration of the new MacBook Pro, I think there is method to their madness. They no longer have to worry about which ports to include in their ever slimming laptops. The simple fact is that Thunderbolt 3/USB-C will serve every currently popular port, from video through USB to Thunderbolt, FireWire and Ethernet—and memory card readers. Not only that, you can charge external devices or the Mac itself from any of the ports, though I suspect there are some unspoken caveats on that score. With the right adaptor (or hub) you can connect any legacy tech you own. That's quite a coup when you step back and think about it for a minute (or two). The MacBook Pro is now essentially universal. It means the customer doesn't have to worry about which model has which ports. Get a Mac and customize it as you like, with the adaptors for the ports you need. It's a new and rather shocking concept. But it will make sense in the long run.

That said, as Josh suggested, Apple could have handled things better. Clearly the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. But that's nothing new in Apple's security obsessed, vertical silo organization. In fact, it's the norm and is't only surprising when they don't muck something up. Does anyone remember how OS X 10.10 Yosemite did a face plant right out the door?

Meanwhile, if they had included an adaptor with the new Macs it would inevitably have been the wrong adaptor for some people. The new meme is about you choosing the adaptors you need. A credit toward an adaptor purchase at the Apple Store might have been nice, but it would almost certainly have been too much for some people and not enough for others.

I suspect consternation over the new port alignment was factored into Apple's sales projections. Though I suspect many people enthusiastically ordering a new MBP didn't realize what they were getting into. Apple undoubtedly expected flack over some of their decisions. And just as undoubtedly they expect such flack to subside as people get used to the new reality—as they always do when Apple changes things up.

And they expect (or hope) that the luster and charm of the Touch Bar will balance things out a bit. But there are a lot of other questions to be answered. Almost lost in all the hoopla over ports and adaptors is the larger size and Force Touch capability of the MacBook Pro trackpad. That, too, will take some getting used to. It's too soon to tell if the new keyboard, not including the Touch Bar, will be a plus or a minus. The keyboard on the MacBook was not all that well received. Is this one like that one? And, frankly, the Apple Wireless keyboard on which I'm typing this comment is the best Mac keyboard I've ever used—and I've used them all at one time or another. It's comparable to the keyboard on most Mac laptops up till now.

Then there's touch ID. Does that mean you cannot start the new MBP with a password? At least on an iPhone you have a choice in how to set it up.

And just how good are those new speakers? Does it matter? We won't know till we hear them. Will the 16GB limitation on RAM be an issue? Some people think so. How can you have a "pro" computer these days with only 16GB of RAM?. This was probably a matter of heat dissipation, though there are two new low profile, supposedly quiet fans to cool thing down.

There are some cool videos about the MacBook Pro on the Apple web site, http://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/, along with some rah-rah explanations of all the new features, of which there are many. I think spending some time studying what Apple has to say about its new Mac will calm the jitters some people are having about it. It did so for me.

Oh, and speaking of new features, taken in toto this is more than the usual evolutionary upgrade of the MacBook Pro. The RAM is faster, the system bus is faster, the CPU is faster, the NVRAM is faster, the SSD is faster. The screen is brighter with a higher gamut (color range) and better contrast. The speakers are more robust. The ports are more powerful and versatile. The Touch Bar is almost revolutionary. In other words, Apple waited until they could upgrade literally everything on the MBP. For a change they lived up to Steve's old motto: Apple will introduce no technology before its time. Let's hope this proves to be true in this case.

I can't wait to try one out at my local Best Buy—especially the keyboard, which is a make or break item in my book.

And, lo, I've almost reached the character limit on this post. Whoa.
Scott M.  2016-11-09 16:38
While I have issues with aspects the whole "dongle" thing, I do agree that the USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports are powerful and overall a good thing. Personally, I don't particularly object to "dongles". It does allow for rather flexible and powerful ports that can then be adapted to how users want/need to use them.

And I don't really care that "dongles" are ugly. I am totally in the "function over form" (not that I don't appreciate a nice design).

Where I do have an issue is that Apple screwed up how they handled it and the plain reality is that it might cost them some sales. In many ways, Apple could predict which "dongles" people might want or need, so there certainly are challenges to the idea of Apple providing some "dongles" in the box. I would argue that is true for most "dongle" options, but not true for at least one simple USB-C to USB-A (i.e. currently available "standard" USB port). Like a headphone jack on an iPhone, I would argue that the vast majority of MacBook Pro use on a rather regular basis a USB device. So, to me, Apple's true screw up on the "dongle" front was not including at least 1 USB-C to USB-A "dongle" with every new MacBook Pro purchase (and I would argue MacBook purchase). After all, with Apple's "here have a discount for a short period of time on these dongles sale, at least until you forget that we screwed this up" sale on "dongles", it would appear that it costs Apple $9 or less to make the USB-C to USB-A dongle (I highly doubt Apple would be will to sell them at a loss even for distraction/marketing sales in the hopes of dying down the controversy until people forget about it). So, Apple's mistake was not just eating the $9 (or less) cost of providing at least 1 USB-C to USB-A dongle with the sale of a MacBook Pro (like they did with the Lightning to headphone jack dongle with the iPhone 7).

I also agree there are other aspects of the new MacBook Pro to like, but some that are still unknown (in particular the TouchBar...hard to say how useful it will really be until actually using it) and some that are not so good (such as the limit of 16 GB of RAM). I, however, will not be watching any of Apple's marketing videos. While I love Macs and will generally pick them over a Windows machines the majority of the time (except for certain situations such as a gaming computer), I can only take so much of the Apple marketing koolaid crap of "magical this" and "magical that". In the end, they are still just marketing videos that come from a very biased source (which is true of pretty much all marketing material).

To that effect, I have not watched the MacBook Pro keynote and not sure if I will. I did watch the iPhone 7 event and was left rather unimpressed by the presentation. That is not to say that there were some nice upgrades/improvements to the iPhone 7 and other potentially nice new products (such as potentially the AirPods when they are finally released). What left me disappointed was essentially a 2 hour presentation that did not present enough new and innovative stuff to deserve a 2 hour presentation. It came across too much as a self-congradulatory marathon of "magic this" and "magic that"...AND most of it was not magic in my opinion.

In the end, I just think that Apple has let itself get trapped in a self-absorbed and self-congradulatory bubble. Yes, they make excellent products that I prefer to use...most of the time...but they have gotten too caught up in their own marketing hype too often.

But that is just me.