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Sat, Sep 08, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Apple offers US$100 credits to angry iPhone owners

SO SORRY While some early adopters were outraged when Apple cut the iPhone's price by US$200 less than 10 weeks after the launch, others thought it was a non-issue


Apple Inc CEO Steve Jobs apologized and offered US$100 credits on Thursday to people who shelled out up to US$599 for an iPhone this summer and were burned when the company chopped US$200 from the expensive model's price.

In a letter on the company's Web site, Jobs acknowledged on Thursday that Apple disappointed some of its customers by cutting the price of the iPhone's 8-gigabyte model and said he has received hundreds of e-mails complaining about the price cut.

But Jobs added that "the technology road is bumpy," and there will always be people who pay top dollar for the latest electronics but get angry later when the price drops.

"This is life in the technology lane," Jobs said.

Jobs said Apple will hand out US$100 credits for Apple's retail and online stores to any iPhone owners who aren't eligible for a rebate under the company's refund policy. The policy covers those who bought their phones within 14 days of the price cut.

An Apple spokeswoman said the company did not have an estimate of how much the credits would cost Apple.

For many of the iPhones early adopters, money is not and never was an issue, however. They were after the gratification of knowing they were among the first owners of something that was cool, even revolutionary.

"If they told me at the outset the iPhone would be US$200 cheaper the next day, I would have thought about it for a second -- and still bought it," said Andrew Brin, a 47-year-old addiction therapist in Los Angeles. "It was US$600 and that was the price I was willing to pay for it."

Enjoying that period of being among the first -- before the prices drop and reach the masses -- is part of the pleasure, Brin and others say. And in much of the tech world, the usual expectation is that six months will pass before there is a major price cut and a year before a next generation of the product -- usually an improved version -- appears.

The looks of envy and attraction are an elixir.

"It's better than a dog, if you want to meet people," Brin said of his iPhone.

Under Apple's refund policy, customers who bought an iPhone within 14 days of the price cut can get a refund of the price difference if they have the original receipt. Those who haven't opened the phones can return them for a full refund.

The price cut -- and the phaseout of the 4-gigabyte iPhone, which retailed for US$499 -- came less than 10 weeks after the two products hit the market on June 29 and angered some iPhone users.

Investors were also rattled by the news, sending Apple's shares down a total of more than 6 percent over the past two days, a drop that has wiped out about US$8 billion in shareholder wealth. Apple's stock closed on Thursday at US$135.01.

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