Sony, Apple learn pricing lessons

Tech companies offer mea culpas to geeks

The makers of two of the most expensive mass-market media products are learning very different lessons about pricing.

Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Apple’s iPhone both hit the market with tons of hype and a $600 pricetag. Both initially sold only to high-end tech-heads.

PS3, the bigger disappointment given the billions Sony spent developing it, has sold more than 1.6 million units in North America in nine months. In three months, Apple sold fewer than 1 million iPhones.

Despite constant criticism over the device’s price, Sony didn’t discount the PS3 until July, when it was reduced by $100. Sales did see a boost, but the console is still mired in third place and execs at the publishers who make games for the PS3 almost universally believe the console needs another price cut to compete with Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which costs $350.

Apple, meanwhile, cut the iPhone’s price just three months after its launch, announcing a $400 price for the device on Sept. 5.

Anslysts say the move should give the iPhone a huge boost going into the holiday season, as consumers who have drooled over the device will buy it for friends and family.

But not everyone’s happy. Apple CEO Steve Jobs had to issue a mea culpa Sept. 6 to those who paid $600 for the device, offering them a $100 Apple store credit in return for being early, high-price, adopters.

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