The Apple iPhone is a popular item. The best summary I can find this morning suggests that Apple has sold about 130,000,000 iPhones globally in 4.5 years. Notice that Apple's fiscal year is different from our calendar year. The chart shows fiscal year sales.
This data raises many questions:
- Do the numbers reflect the production of phones, or the sales of phones?
- Do phones I returned for service get refurbished and resold?
- Are resold phones counted twice, or not (since I was given one in exchange)?
- What is the inventory in the Apple stores and other sales channels?
- Does everything eventually get sold?
- How do we count disposal of obsolete inventory?
- How can they make so many (150 million) for so little ($100-$200)?
- How can they sell so many (150 million) for so much ($400-550)?
- $50 Memory and processor chips
- $40 Display and touch-screen assembly
- $30 Misc components and packaging
- $30 Camera, Bluetooth, Wifi, Compass, Sound
- $20 Mechanical items (switches, jacks, plugs, cables)
- $10 Accessories and Battery
- $10 Production and assembly by Foxconn
Now I can try to answer my two questions:
- Apple makes the iPhones for so little by purchasing huge quantities of parts inexpensively along with efficient manufacturing using Asian subcontractors with low labor costs
- Apple sells the iPhones for so much because they make calls, provide the calendar, keep our address books, take photographs, hold our music collections, play movies, and run 402,000 apps (as of today) - things that are more cumbersome to do - and expensive - without the iPhone.
This fits in with the Labor Value philosophy, where an item's value ( when one buys, sells or exchanges it ) is connected to the toil and trouble which it can save the owner.