It could be argued that we're living in one of the best times in history for gadget-loving geeks. With gadgets hitting the market like the Gear Fit, Pebble Steel and Google Glass, it's easy to fall in tech lust over and over again. But how much should a good idea be worth? Take Google Glass for example: a new report says that the materials to build it cost less than $100, so why does it cost over $1500 at a retail level? How much is a good idea worth?
A new report from Teardown.com (which admittedly has some flaws which we'll get to), says that the cost of making Glass is around $US73 all up:
$5.66 for a 5 MP camera, $13.96 for a processor, $8.18 for 16 GB of NAND memory, and so on...
Google has slammed this figure as "absolutely wrong" in a WSJ report, and the guy behind the original teardown admits, it's probably closer to $US95 if he's honest about how much that glass prism screen that makes Glass so revolutionary actually costs (he originally estimated $US3).
But even if that prism cost the web giant $500, you're still looking at a mark-up of around $1000 for Google Glass.
Google recently offered Glass to the public for one day only, at the whopping retail cost of $1500. For some, that's a small price to pay for the future. For others, it's the price of a new laptop for school or work, next month's rent money or a beater car to get you to and from your job.
So what's the real price of a good idea? How much should years of research and development time actually be worth?
Google's geeks spent years inside the Google X labs holed up, trying to birth the future out of a few rubber bands and some science. Eventually, they came up with Glass, and innovated a computer inside a glasses frame, and a screen that fits in front of your eyes without any discernible loss of quality or resolution from the notification panel. No mean feat.
But does it really justify an extra $1400 on top of the retail price for what is essentially a glorified Bluetooth accessory for your Android phone?
Google isn't the only party to slug you for its innovative products. Apple, Samsung, Sony, HTC, Microsoft: they all do it. Materials are cheap, and manufacturing them on a massive scale makes them cheaper. They have to price the product accordingly in order to recoup the costs they spent building the product from scratch, and they need to carve out a profit for themselves to keep going. Profit shouldn't be a dirty word, but gouging customers certainly should.
So how much is a good idea worth? $100? $500? $1500?
Pick your favourite gadget or even your smartphone, and tell us in the comments what you'd pay for it given all the good ideas and R&D that went into it.