[FoRK] "the price is too high"

James Tauber jtauber at jtauber.com
Wed Apr 7 07:29:49 PDT 2010


On the topic of why I have such a problem with statements like "the price is too high", funnily enough, I wrote out the following trying out 750words.com yesterday (it's less than half that but heck, I use twitter, this is long form :-)

Note this was just written on my iPad as things occurred to me sitting in bed yesterday. It hasn't been edited at all. And it's framed around pricing of apps in the App Store but applies to anything.


Say an app in the App Store sells for two dollars and someone says: two dollars is too much.

There are a number of different things they could mean by this. The most common is "I am not willing to pay two dollars for this" which at its most fundamental would mean "I value this less than I value having two dollars" but it may be more subtle than that. There may be elements of "I don't think the creator of the app should have two dollars" where the judgement is as much about the creator or creation of the app as the value of the app itself. But even considering just the more fundamental reason, there is often the implication that people who DO value the app at two dollars, i.e. are willing to part with two dollars for it, are somehow WRONG. Now people don't always mean this. Sometimes "I'm not willing to pay for this" is just a statement of fact about their own subjective preferences without a judgement on others. But I think more often than not, the person is judging people who ARE willing to pay that amount; that somehow their values are flawed.

Another common reason behind saying that two dollars is too much is that the person making the statement disagrees with the seller's business decision to sell at that price. Perhaps the person making the statement thinks the seller would make more money if they sold it at a lower price. But that is an empirical question for the seller to test out. If they make the wrong choice, it is their loss. But it is surely not WRONG in some moral sense to charge two dollars when doing so isn't the optimal price to maximize revenue. Ironically it could very well be those very people that detest businesses focusing on maximizing profits who also object when the same business charges a price too high to maximize their profit. If the price is too high AND the seller is maximizing their profit, then we're back at the first kind of judgement: judging the people who ARE okay with paying two dollars.


James


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