Tech giant Apple have hit the headlines lately with the launch of their new Mac Pro, which comes with a hefty price tag and some costly extras. Claire Baldwin looks at why Apple can charge a premium price on their products and, with Jony Ive’s imminent departure on the horizon, how long it’s likely to last.

The new Mac Pro has been faced mixed reactions. While the specs are pretty impressive, so is the price tag. Another element that has been heavily criticised is the cost of the display’s stand, which many feel is bordering on—or perhaps fully entering—the absurd.

Apple has a bit of a reputation for charging a premium for products that are portrayed as stylish, prestigious and high-tech, but how true is this image to the reality?

Stylish products

Generally speaking, Apple’s products are thought of as being clean, sleek and uniform. But let’s address the elephant in the room: The Mac Pro looks like a cheese grater.

Ikea was quick to point it out in their tongue-in-cheek advert for a grater “Designed for apples”, and the internet has been awash with the comparison. Is it better or worse than the previous Mac Pro’s comparison to a bin? It’s hard to say.

That said, it’s a very clever design. It’s instantly recognisable, making the device almost a logo in its own right, and it’s actually quite sleek and minimal … once you get past the cheese-grateriness.

You could be tempted to say that Apple should have focus-grouped the design a little more before finalising it but, let’s face it, we’re all talking about it. That’s great exposure.

Prestigious products

Obviously, better things are supposed to cost more. We’ve all heard the old adage “Buy cheap, buy twice.” However, a high cost doesn’t necessarily guarantee a quality product.

There has long been a perception of quality and prestige in Apple products. The sheer number of people who own one is both testament to and an argument against this view.

The Mac Pro is priced at $5,999, with the Pro Display XDR coming in at $4,999. The price of the Pro Display stand is a whopping $1,000. While this puts them out of the price range of many people, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Mac Pro is designed for professional end users with high-end computing needs. The clue is in the name.

While critics may say that Apple should create more lower-end products for the everyday consumer, doing so would decrease the product’s perceived prestige, which may hurt the company’s overall reputation.

High-tech products

The consumers that the Mac Pro is aimed at have the need (and the budget) for its high specs. While the average computer user probably can’t afford a Mac Pro, they also probably don’t need one anyway.

That said, it’s difficult to understand how Apple can justify charging one-sixth of the price of a high-spec computer for a metal stand, albeit one that is touted to have incredible height, tilt and rotation abilities.

Apple have always been at the forefront of tech research and development, and they have become both benchmark and inspiration for other companies. When Apple does something, other companies often follow close behind. Let’s be honest. Most smartphones kind of just look like iPhones at this point.

But don’t forget the iPhone 7’s much-lamented lack of a headphone jack, which essentially offered decreased functionality and an increased obligation to rely on Apple products. Other companies weren’t exactly quick to follow this step, and many used it as a selling point for their own, more adaptable phones.

When will Apple’s bubble burst?

People will always poke holes in new releases from any company, and Apple’s high profile and astonishing user base just makes it more of a target for the haters.

While there seems to be consistent criticism of their new products, Apple brand loyalty is on an upswing, and they claim to have 1.4 billion active users of their devices. It’s possible that these complaints are coming from already biased non-Apple users, or that the younger generations who are so used to smartphones and other high-tech gadgets are taking up Apple products faster than the jaded Apple defectors.

Either way, Apple are a great example of how to successfully create brand loyalty that is almost completely unmatched in any other market.

Apple’s changing design department

However, things could be set to change, as Apple’s chief design officer Jony Ive has announced that he is to leave by the end of 2019 to start independent design company LoveFrom. Ive is credited with rescuing Apple from its decline in the ’90s, and has overseen the design of every product since 1992.

Losing such an influential figure could be a huge blow for Apple, and his role won’t be directly replaced. Instead, existing team members Evans Hankey, Alan Dye and Jeff Williams will manage different design divisions.

Ive has stated that LoveFrom will count Apple as one of its clients, so he’ll likely still have some input, but the dynamic and design process will be very different. While Ive has said that Hankey, Dye and Williams are among his closest collaborators and he has “the utmost confidence” in them, will they be able to continue his legacy? Only time will tell.

One thing is certain: The next few years will be pretty interesting for Apple.