…If the margins were due to mere novelty, the effect should not have persisted over so many years. Pricing data shows that the iPhone remains exceptionally valuable and that the iPad, excluding line extensions, has also held the line on pricing.
The missing piece in the puzzle is that the iPhone and iPad and iPod touch and Apple TV are pieces of an inter-dependent network of assets. The iTunes stores, Apple’s services and Apple Retail are easily ignored because they are not “profit centers” but I believe they are a key component to the sustainment of these margins.
Asymco's always astute Horace Dediu on why Apple's margins rival Microsoft's and Google's, when typically software and services companies have much higher margins than hardware companies. Apple may not make much in the way of profits from the iTunes ecosystem, but that ecosystem, in part, drives the sales of successive devices, “hardware as a service” as Dediu puts it.