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Peripheral Cable Mafia

What?s the deal with not getting a cable with a printer? This topic came up briefly at the end of the 9/5/ podcast.

I?ve always marveled at how the shelves at Best Buy are filled with $25 USB cables. I?ve never found an explanation as to why the cables are so expensive. I assumed that printer manufacturers stopped including them to keep their unit price down.

Then I purchased a no-name hard drive enclosure from an online retailer. I was very surprised to discover when I opened the box that this device, which cost $35, included both a firewire and a USB cable!

Is the mob controlling the distribution of packaged USB cables? $25 is just too damn much for 6 feet of wire and a couple of connectors. Can someone shed some light on this?

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Here's why...

In reply to: Peripheral Cable Mafia

There are likely a number of reasons which led to this.

Partly it's because they want to give you the choice. They don't know if you want a 3 foot or a 16 foot; if you want a regular one, a gold-plated one, or a retractable one; or maybe you want to use the printer with parallel or ethenet; or if you already have one and don't want to pay for another one.
(Realistically though, they really could just toss a regular 6-footer in, since that's what everyone buys.)

It also may be to keep costs lower on the printers - although these cables cost less than a dollar or two to make, so that's not much of a reason.

The most likely reason is that it gives the retailers the opportunity to make some money. Stores don't make a lot on many products. Printers are probably 10-30% profit, they will often lose money on a laptop, but cables and other accessories are where the big money is. If they're selling a usb cable for $20-$30 that cost them $2 or $3 to buy (and less than a dollar to manufacture), then that's probably going to be well over 90% profit for them. That may be surprising to some, but it's very real.

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$25 is way too much

In reply to: Peripheral Cable Mafia

You can get a USB AB cable for about $3-$6 for a 6 footer. Don't buy the expensive ones from Best Buy. I get mine from Fry's Electronics. Although, they try to pull a fast one too. The USB cables with the other cables are expensive like the ones at Best Buy. The inexpensive cables are over with the component electronics... Worst case scenario, stock up on AB cables from online stores. You'll need them eventually.

Same goes for Firewire cables, too BTW.

Oh and buzz crew, I paid $15 for my HDMI cable (I didn't really complain about this after dropping $1100 for the TV). Don't buy Monster and you won't pay a lot.

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