Re: Hi, Mr. Cynical here
"Have a look at the teardowns on isuppli.com - a 16Gb iPhone 4S costs around $196 (say £125) to make. Transport costs, software licences not included."
iFixIt's tear downs conveniently ignore all the hidden costs of producing devices like these. That miniaturisation doesn't just happen. There's the R&D needed to design the hardware; the manufacturing processes, which usually change with each new model; the logistics of ensuring all the components arrive just in time, and no earlier or later; the packaging design and manufacturing; the distribution and shipping logistics, and so on. (This is why Tim Cook was hired by Jobs, incidentally. He's very, very good at solving those logistical puzzles.)
Then there's the cash spent on marketing and PR—in multiple countries. Remember those "I'm a PC / I'm a Mac" ads? The UK ads used a different pair of comedians. As did the Italians. And they were adapted and localised to account for cultural differences. Again, that's not cheap.
And that's before you get into all the faff and hassle of getting certification from the FCC, EU, China, etc., after which you THEN have to test the phones on individual operators' networks to get them to sell it on their networks.
And then there's the customer service and support infrastructure. Someone has to pay for those call centres. Someone has to pay for the infrastructure to handle the WEEE regulations too.
ALL of the above has to be paid for. ALL smartphone manufacturers have to cover these costs, not just Apple.
Finally, there's the development of iOS itself. This is something most of Apple's rivals don't have to pay for, yet they somehow manage to have no trouble charging the same—or even more—money for their devices than Apple do for their iPhones.