Pandemic, confinement, teleworking, remote tech conferences, the year 2020 will have been surprising and will have brought another rather pleasant surprise: falling prices. Who would’ve believed that ?
The year 2020 will have been a landmark and confusing year in more than one respect and the world of tech will not have been spared. After the waltz of canceled and / or postponed events and after the period of adaptation that followed, our favorite field was struck by a phenomenon that had been quite discreet over the past 15 years. In 2020, prices have gone down.
Realize! Lower prices for some products flagships, in an area where the public is used to seeing prices inflate from year to year, this is rare enough to be noted. As lovers of high-tech products, however, we are accustomed and seasoned to all kinds of justifications for making us swallow the pill of rising prices.
STECHOLM ™ SYNDROME
From the difference in exchange rates between currencies (never to the advantage of the customer) to the repercussion of various import duties and taxes, including the inclusion of transport and logistics costs in the sale price, all the he arsenal has been deployed and used to pass the painful. With success. We were used, even resigned, to seeing an initial price of 199 dollars magically converting into 229 euros even though the exchange was to the advantage of the Euro.
Yes, but the VAT?
That learnedly answered us the economists on sale on Twitter. It has good back, the VAT. In the midst of Stecholm ™ syndrome, manufacturers do not even bother with an explanation when posting the prices of their products. Once the Rubicon crossed, no turning back is possible any more then we made of this permanent increase a cosmic rule and continued to buy these products sold always more expensive while hoping, in certain markets, that the providential arrival of a competitor comes to shake up the established order by offering his products at more competitive prices. AMD’s return to the CPU race in 2017 with its Ryzen range positioned at lower prices than Intel’s was one such example.
If the competition is good, it is on the other hand extremely rare to see a manufacturer in a dominant position decide for itself to reduce its prices from one generation to the next.
NEW EXPRESSION 2020: “MAKE AN NVIDIA”
Yet this is what Nvidia did this year with its RTX 3xxx series of graphics cards. In October, the Californian manufacturer indeed unveiled its new range. Thus the 3080 is the flagship pawn of the previous generation that was the 2080 Ti by being about 25% more efficient on certain games for a price of 500 euros cheaper (719 euros against 1259 euros). The more picky readers will point out to me that the equivalent of the 3080 is the 2080 and not the supercharged Ti version, and they will be right. But even by comparing it to the classic 2080, the price advantage remains visible (719 euros against 849 euros) and the performance gap is even greater. What about VAT?
WE CONSOLE AS WE CAN
On the console side, if Sony and Microsoft have not made an Nvidia, they have worked so that their new consoles, the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, are maintained at the respective prices of their elders, 399 euros for the PS5 ( in digital version, however) and 499 euros for the Series X, the latter even offering a Series S version below the 300 euros mark (the price drop is accompanied by a drop in performance).
These stable prices even though these new consoles introducing, in addition to the traditional performance gain, features never seen before (I am thinking of the Quick Resume of the X Series) via a resolutely modern technical architecture and the generalization of storage on SSD disks make us us remember with nostalgia the 600 euros requested for the purchase of a PlayStation 3 and its 5400 rpm 60 GB disc when it was launched in 2007 in Europe.
THE 2020 STANDARD: GOOD SPECS, GOOD PRICES
As for smartphones, the finding is more or less the same, after the madness of premium flagships sold for over 1000 euros or classic models with discounted components, manufacturers have made the effort to sell “standard” models. properly staffed. OnePlus did not have the memo, this is the only reason that can explain the release of the OnePlus Pro at 900 euros at the beginning of the year. Fortunately, the Chinese manufacturer has come to his senses by offering the OnePlus 8T at the 2020 standard, that is to say a good endowment at a reasonable price.
Same observation at Apple which for two generations had accustomed us to offer a premium model (iPhone XS, iPhone 11 Pro) and a less noble entry-level model (iPhone XR, iPhone 11) and which with the iPhone 12 took an interesting path. In addition to generalizing the Super Retina XDR (OLED) panel throughout the range (yes I know, it was about time), the Cupertino company has taken out a new format from its hat. The iPhone 12 mini which stands out from the others only by its size. And its price.
While its performance is equivalent to the iPhone 12. This had the effect of finally making the standard range attractive and the pro range less statutory. The interest of the latter now rests only on its finish with steel edges and its advanced functions for the photo part as explained by Mélinda in her video test.
Same dynamic at Google which offers its Pixel 5 at 629 euros compared to the 769 euros requested for a Pixel 4 when it was released. Well, the honesty of my editor forces me to point out that in the case of Google, the price goes down, but so does the performance. Note however that the price drop is still greater than the performance drop, so the demonstration remains valid.
A SUSTAINABLE PHENOMENON?
The question now is whether this trend will last over time. Will 2020 be seen in a few years as a welcome break in the permanent price escalation or the start of a shift in commercial strategy? Difficult to answer. It is technological advances that dictate the rise in prices and in recent years we had reached a technological plateau where new products offered only marginal improvements, waiting for a nice technological innovation to start rising again.
The arrival of folding screens is one example, which has made it possible to * very * significantly increase prices. Their generalization will pull them down, so goes the industry. The prices practiced in 2020 on products with totally different life cycles therefore seem to be more akin to an alignment of the planets that are happy, of course, but fortuitous. And it is certainly not AMD who will contradict us since the range of Zen 3 CPUs unveiled last month already shows sales prices higher by 50 dollars compared to the previous generation … Ah! 2020 will have been a nice interlude …