An Apple a day, then Jobs wants you to chuck it away
Another week, another Apple product feted as the Second Coming in gadget form. Wait, hang on a minute. . .
Apple are pretty good at hype, but it seems like they’ve been a little too good at it this week. Apple fan-boys and -girls (and shareholders) were roundly disappointed this morning with the launch of a slightly improved iPhone 4, the 4S. They were let down after whipping themselves up into a frenzy of iPhone 5 speculation over the past week.
But give it 9 days, when the smartphone is set to be released here, and you’re sure to see Apple-maniacs queueing from one end of your nearest capital city to the other to get their hands on the new smartphone. Their existing year-old iPhones will just get tossed. That’s a feature of Apple products. Your latest whizz-bang gizmo is always just a few short months away from being made obsolete by a product with only slightly more whizz and a pinch more bang.
The real genius of Apple - best known for how smart their phones and marketing strategies are - is how they keep us all coming back for more.
Apple’s recipe for success is this: first they hype up a product relentlessly. Tech-bloggers and brekky TV techheads then slobber all over themselves in excitement. Then your average consumer feels they’re not nerd chic enough without one.
Then they buy one and well, built-in technological obsolescence takes care of the rest. That’s a fancy and difficult-to-spell way of saying their products run out of steam after 18 months (if you’re lucky).
For instance, just look at the battery life of an iPhone 4. A survey of 1000 techies by PC World magazine found a plurality wanted the iPhone 5 to have improved battery life over any other feature. That’s because if you’re using your iPhone fairly heavily, its battery isn’t likely to get you through the whole day after a year of use.
Sure. The phone is capable of so many functions that of course the battery’s not going to last forever.
But your average consumer can’t just go out, buy a new battery and slot it into their iPhone. There’s no point. Apple have sealed the phones shut. Sucks to be you if your phone dies when you’re out on a bushwalk and you wished you had a spare battery on you.
If your battery’s dead, you’ve got to take it into the Mac Store and get it replaced by a professional. Which costs a fair bit of dosh. And why would you bother when you can easily upgrade to a new iPhone with new features and a fresh battery anyway? The staff are happy to hawk you a new one.
It’s a clever but not entirely ethical business strategy. Imagine if you had to buy a new car every year and a half because your engine only lasted half your commute to work.
If only Apple could power their phones with hype instead.
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