Apple Mini computers have been flying off the shelves, and in fact they have sold out of their entire first production run already. Apparently (although I hve not been able to verify this from any news sources), some individuals have bought many Minis and are reselling them on eBay, taking advantage of the confluence of the low list price and the buzz surrounding the release and the excess demand from early adopters.
Also apparently, Steve Jobs is not happy about this development, and would like to extract the rents himself that the arbitrageurs are extracting. My initial thought upon hearing this was that he wanted to have his cake and eat it too. Simultaneously satisfying two objectives — 1. low list price and 2. intertemporal price discrimination — that are inherently incompatible is very difficult. The low list price and the buzz are very important from a marketing perspective, but given the discrete time nature of the production process, if there’s excess demand in the short run because of the buzz, Apple is very unlikely to be able to capture the value from that. These folks who are reselling on eBay are doing exactly that.
I’ve heard, though, that Apple is considering limiting Mini purchases to 2 per person, or something like that. That will diminish the amount that early adopters pay to acquire the Minis, but will also lengthen the timespan of their acquisition. I wonder if that would feed the buzz or kill it … ?