Re: Necessary Now
You say "nobody is forcing you to buy the Merc", but at least here in Japan, that is exactly what is happening.
In a car analogy, it would be like Mercedes made a contract with all car dealers in the whole country, to each sell a ridiculous high fixed quantity of Mercedes cars. What is happening here is - all Japanese telcos are giving away IPhones for cheaper contracts than even the lowest spec Android handset.
To come back to your analogy - they will still sell you a Fiat, but you will have to cash out more than for a Mercedes.
Of course, this is not Apple's fault - it's the stupid Japanese telcos that signed such contracts.
For Apple it's a nice situation. They enjoy a 50.4% market share in the home country of Sony, Sharp, Fujitsu, Kyocera, ... and with hardware that doesn't really fit to the Japanese market. As an example NFC is extremely widespread here, but even the IPhone 6's NFC doesn't support the Japanese "seifu Ketai" (mobile wallet) system.
So yes, if you can establish a monopoly by smart contracting a limited channel (Only 3 big telcos here), you can happily gouge the customers. At least until someone else breaks in by offering a better alternative for a reasonable price. In case of Telcos this is difficult, as you need the infrastructure. As a result smart phone contracts here got significantly more expensive here in the last few years. Dumb-phone contracts not so much, as there are still some independent 2G providers around.