Commentary
6/8/2009
12:45 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary

Palm's Touchstone Charger: $5 Worth Of Parts, $65 Worth Of Overhead

The Touchstone charger is one very cool accessory for the new Palm Pre. It uses inductive charging technology so the Pre can charge wirelessly just by resting on top of the Touchstone. Sounds high-tech, right? It is. But the parts only cost Palm $5. Your price? $70.



The Touchstone charger is one very cool accessory for the new Palm Pre. It uses inductive charging technology so the Pre can charge wirelessly just by resting on top of the Touchstone. Sounds high-tech, right? It is. But the parts only cost Palm $5. Your price? $70.That's a heck of a mark-up. According to iFixit's teardown of component costs, the Touchstone uses a meager $5 worth of parts. That includes plastics, some metals, a few electronic components, and not much else. So why, then, is Palm charging $70 for the Touchstone?

Well. I have some theories on that.

First, Palm just needs the money, plain and simple. It spent gobs of cash to develop the Pre and webOS, its new smartphone and smartphone operating system. The Touchstone has a huge cache factor for the little technology that it actually uses.

The Touchstone is an inductive charger. This simply means that you can rest the Pre on top of the Touchstone and the Touchstone will transfer an electrical charge to the battery without the need to plug the Pre into the Touchstone. The Touchstone, of course, does need to be plugged into the wall.

Wireless charging is neat technology, no doubt. It's not the brand newest technology ever developed, but it has yet to reach mainstream use. Therefore, manufacturers can charge a price premium for it.

That's exactly what Palm is doing in this case. Even though the components cost just $5 to make, that doesn't include development costs, shipping costs, warehousing costs, marketing costs, packaging costs, and so on.

You'd be surprised to see the price breakdowns for a lot of standard consumer electronic equipment. The Pre's Touchstone charger is no different.

I don't begrudge Palm for charging $70 for the charger (though I'd prefer to see a $50 price point.) Still, this information may make that $70 hard to swallow for some Pre adopters.

Thoughts?

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