If anything, Apple is encouraging a used market, by artificially creating a lower-end used market.
If Apple really wanted to prevent a second-hand market for iPods, they'd do something like permanently lock an iPod to a specific iTunes account.
As for someone changing their mind, do you really think that's Apple's motivation behind offering engraving?. I'd guess less than 1% of iPods are sold engraved, and of these the unwanted rate would be in single digits, probably again close to 1%, so (with those assumptions) we're looking at about 1 in 10,000 units.
Instead, I'd put forward that Apple offer engraving for some other reason, and the anti-return policy is simply a byproduct of that, not the driving force; an engraved iPod can't be restocked and would be cost prohibitive to refurbish
The mandatory six-month warranty for defects, however, is independent from the money-back guarantee.
Further evidence that "monopoly" has no useful meaning. At best it allows a speaker to hang negative emotion onto a subject, and at worst, agitate for government coercion against the subject.
That being said, the term monopoly doesn't mean much on its own. There is an alternative to everything.
That substitutability is defined in a distributed way isn't a well-formed argument against tying it down in any particular case. Legal courts make these determinations every day concerning the meanings of texts, whose intent can be similarly hard to divine.
"Monopolies are thus characterised by a lack of economic competition for the good or service that they provide and a lack of viable substitute goods." - via wikipedia, with book citation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly
Please don't forget about the last bit. There are a million (bad) substitutes for an iPod, regardless of how they end up connected to the computer. The word monopoly should be used with economic rigor or not at all - even economists tread lightly and discuss heavily before labeling any entity a monopoly.
Setting aside the above, the definition suffers for ignoring the question of why there are no viable substitutes. It's a dangerous omission since the implication, at least with respect to legal policy, is that it is the "fault" of the firm.
The closest one could get to a useful definition of monopoly would be: a firm whose would-be competitors are coercively excluded from competing in the market. Of course even that still suffers from the subjectivity of defining the scope of "the market".
And it is not unethical either.
By the way, I crave downvotes from humourless Apple devotees.
The engraving makes the gift special, intimate and remarkable.
You're right - I still hold on to my old engraved iPod because it was a gift. It's not something I'd want to dispose of, even though it looks terribly out of fashion now (what with new models of iPods releasing every year).
Because even if what he is saying is true I doubt that the fraction of people that get engraved iPods and then resell can influence the secondary market filled with iPods from almost all technology retailers and Apple's retail stores themselves.
This said, I object greatly to the article's outlandish posturing that he knows WHY Apple offers free engraving and it is for the cynical reason he stated - to subvert the customer's future gift giving activities. He knows no such thing and to claim he does know goes is simple BS. Article pointing out interesting effect of personalization, that's a great article. Article pulling out one of many effects of a business decision and claiming that was the primary, or even a considered reason for making the decision, that's totally bogus.
As many others have pointed out here and in that article's comments, there are many business reasons and advantages to offering free engraving. One good one is increasing its perception as a luxury good. Many high end jewelers offer free engraving with a Rolex purchase.
Or how about to help the customer protect his property from thieves? I could note that products that are engraved are probably less likely to be stolen, and then claim that that's the reason WHY Apple offers the service with the purchase - they want to help customers.
Or how about so many people buy iPods that its now a common occurrence for people to mix up their iPods with those of their friends. Engraving helps the customer avoid such mixups. I often get out the dremel tool and put my name on things so they don't get mixed up. Dremel scratches look terrible though and mars the finish. It would ruin the appearance of an iPod. Perhaps Apple noticed customers doing this, and to maintain artistic standards of appearance even after the sale, started throwing it in.
These reasons, as examples only, are not any less likely a sole explanation than the more cynical one, especially with Apple's history of focusing on customer total experience and reducing trouble and increasing happiness for the customers, with even details such as styrofoam packaging being carefully designed by specialized artists.
On the issue of engraving being free or no cost, that is not correct. Apple is not offering engraving service on things you have NOT bought from them, such as Zunes or watches. The cost of engraving is included with the purchase price, which is premium priced. Not everyone uses it though.
Now there's a thought. When you buy your iPod at WalMart or Target you don't get engraving do you, yet you pay the exact same price or maybe $5 less as you would from store.apple.com. WalMart and Target though take around 33% of the selling price as profit. So there's where the engraving can be paid from - every order from the Apple Store means more profit for Apple. Engraving is an incentive to buy direct from Apple at full list price rather than from a reseller.
I assume that an iPod is less this way, but still a 33% margin sounds a bit high for a consumer electronic device ... maybe it's different with Apple's philosophy, but in general I doubt there's that much profit to be found in MP3 players -- they may depend on the sales of headphones, cases, iTunes/Amazon gift cards or tracks, CDs to rip onto the device, etc. more than on the actual sale of the device.
Well, they obviously plan to make money off of it somehow, right? Do you object to that, or are you upset because you think that he thinks that?
I gave my sister her first iPod as a graduation gift when she got her masters in social work after surviving her first bout with breast cancer. Being able to put this quotation on the back of her gift meant a lot:
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
Scion pushes the idea of customizing a new car: spoilers, rims, paint jobs, removing the logo, whatever else.
That and Steve probably likes to give personalized gifts....
Is that what putting "Apple" in the headline does to a thread? It reminds of Digg...
I call this baseless speculation.
It's not like you are forced to have engraving. If you want to resell it, don't engrave it. If you want the person at the receiving end of a gift card to be able to reuse the card, don't sign on the card.
If you want to resell your iPod, don't engrave it. Modern Apple products seem to be designed to expire after a few years anyway - see how Apple really doesn't want to let you replace the battery in said iPod, for example.
The points about directing people to their store over other stores and minimizing the secondary market are probably the main reasoning behind offering engraving.
I think it would be a clever solution for next year's YCers
As a commenter there points out, though, if it's harder to resell your old machine you may be less likely to upgrade to a new one. So there is pressure in the other direction.
The real reason? Apple make more money if you buy from them direct.