Black Friday shoppers hoping to score a deal on the newly released iPhone 5 will be out of luck. Black Friday 2012, the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season, is just a few days away and there isn’t a single credible iPhone 5 deal on the horizon.
Retailers and wireless carriers generally discount phones and other electronics on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, each year to lure in shoppers. ‘Black Friday’ deals have slowly crept into the weeks preceding Thanksgiving in recent years, with companies such as T-Mobile now offering free phones the weekend before Black Friday. Online retailers such as Amazon.com and Walmart.com are running countless pre-Black Friday deals as well.
Apple typically stays out of the Black Friday madness until the last-minute and offers relatively few deals. Last year, Apple offered $101 off MacBooks, $21 off the iPod touch, up to $61 off the iPad and $11 off the iPod nano. Apple also discounted some third-party accessories at Apple.com. The iPhone 4S, then just over a month old, was missing from the Black Friday madness completely.
The iPhone 4S was a relatively minor update to the iPhone 4, but the iPhone 5 is a completely new phone. Though the iPhone 5 will be two months old by the time Black Friday rolls around, Apple still can’t keep up with demand. The company is listing 2-3 week shipping times for all iPhone 5 models. With demand like this, Apple has little incentive to offer Black Friday shoppers any discounts on the iPhone 5.
Another reason Apple and its wireless partners don’t discount the iPhone 5 on Black Friday is because the phone is already discounted in the form of a hefty subsidy. The full, unsubsidized iPhone 5 price is between $649.99 and $849.99 depending on capacity. This is the price subscribers must pay if they are not eligible for an upgrade or do not want to commit to a new two-year contract.
Apple maintains strict marketing agreements with its retail partners, preventing them from undercutting the iPhone maker by selling iPhone 5 as a loss leader to drive foot traffic. Best Buy, Wal-Mart and other retailers often advertise their deepest discounts along with a disclaimer that only a limited supply of each gadget will be available at each store. Invariably, shoppers complain about the bait-and-switch marketing techniques every Black Friday as they’re unable to actually buy the electronics they waited in line for. Apple’s partners agree to ‘minimum advertised price’ clauses and other restrictions to keep the iPhone 5 from being mixed up in the negative aspects of Black Friday.
Users shouldn’t be too concerned with saving a few bucks off the iPhone 5’s purchase price since it’s only a small fraction of the total cost of ownership. The bulk of the cost of owning an iPhone 5 is the service contract. The true cost of the iPhone 5 starts at $2,118 for individual subscribers. Those looking for bargain-priced iPhones may want to consider the discounted iPhone 4S, which starts at just $99.
Apple will likely offer discounts on its iPods, MacBooks and iPads again this year, though we don’t expect to see any savings on the iPad mini, which is still difficult to find in many configurations.
You can watch the above 2-minute video for a summary of the Apple Black Friday deals we’ve heard about so far.