Sorry, Apple's controversial $1,000 computer screen stand isn't a ripoff - it's a missed opportunity

Mac Pro (2019) display standApple/Dave LeeThe $1,000 stand in question.Apple/Dave Lee

  • Apple announced a new entry in its super high-end Mac Pro computer line on Monday at its annual developers conference.
  • Alongside the new computer, which is intended for professional-grade video and audio processing, Apple unveiled a $5,000 computer screen: The Pro Display XDR.
  • The screen doesn't come with a stand. Instead, Apple is selling a separate $1,000 stand.
  • People are freaking out about it, but they shouldn't be - it's more a mistake of messaging on Apple's part and a missed opportunity to frame the computer screen as $1,000 off for professional users that already own a stand.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Apple just announced a $5,000 computer screen that doesn't come with a stand. Instead, the stand costs an extra $1,000.

It's not made of carbon fiber or encrusted in jewels. Though the stand seems to be perfectly nice, it doesn't appear to stand out in any particular way.

It is exactly what it proposes to be: A computer monitor stand.

Mac Pro Display XDRAppleApple's new $5,000 "Pro Display XDR."Apple

Some folks are very upset that Apple is selling a computer screen stand for $1,000 - the same price as a new iPhone XS, and even approaching the cost of a new entry-level MacBook.

One headline from a tech blog sums up much of the reaction: "A $999 monitor stand is everything wrong with Apple today."

At the event where the monitor stand was announced, WWDC 2019, the audience audibly responded to the lofty price tag:

And yes, of course, $1,000 is a lot of money to spend on a computer screen stand. After all, we're talking about a piece of metal that holds up a screen. 

Moreover, a computer monitor stand - like a TV stand - is something most people think of as part of the monitor (or TV) itself. Not only is this an expensive stand, but it's an extra cost for something people expect to be included.

And this speaks to an already existing feeling people have about Apple: That the company charges luxury prices for relatively common items, and that it nickle-and-dimes its customers for additional add-ons, like an iPhone fast charger, which isn't included in the box.

But in this particular case, that's not really what's happening.

iPhone 7 headphone dongleHollis Johnson/Business InsideriPhone owners complained about Apple nickel and diming them for the cost of the iPhone dongle.Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

"The truth is a lot of people doing professional video editing and things like that are using these displays that are mounted in place and they have stands already," popular tech vlogger Marques "MKBHD" Brownlee said in his latest video. "When they upgrade displays, they take them out and put them in the same place and they don't need to buy new mounts and new stands for them."

It's a smart point, and it's one that's being lost in the outraged response to Apple charging $1,000 for this monitor stand.

He continued: "You and me, and most people watching WWDC, and most normal people just think of a monitor and a stand together. So what [Apple] should have said was this is a $6,000 monitor, but if you want to buy it without the stand it's $1,000 off - $5,000."

In other words, instead of presenting the screen's stand as an add-on, Apple should have presented it with the full package price and an optional $1,000 discount for the professional video editors and developers watching that already own a compatible stand.

This isn't a measure of Apple overcharging for something - it's a measure of Apple selling a niche product with that niche customer and their niche budget in mind, and then failing to stick the landing during the announcement. Admittedly, Apple isn't known for creating a lot of niche products. But the Mac Pro line is an exception; it's a device made with a specific type of professional in mind, in an industry where a $6,000 reference monitor is thousands cheaper - and in some cases tens of thousands cheaper - than the competition.

Check out Brownlee's video right here for his full argument:

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