Every time Apple launch a new phone, there’s a predictable chain of events:
- The media make a big deal out of the crowds queuing up outside Apple Stores around the world.
- “Commentators” mock people in these queues, calling them all kinds of names and pointing out all the things they could be doing if they weren’t in a queue for a mobile phone.
- Everyone complains that the new phones are too few and/or too expensive, while pointing out the large “black market” for handsets thriving in countries where the phone isn’t already available.
- “Commentators” complain about lack of functionality in the new phones (e.g. inability to remotely launch Space Shuttles) and make long lists of things they would have included if only they were in charge of design at Apple.
- Someone, somewhere, does something incredibly stupid with their phone and the media jump on this story as some sort of proof that Apple is responsible for its customers’ actions and hint at the decline of civilisation as a result.
- Predictably, commentators then bemoan our “modern obsession” with “mobile phones” and wonder why we can’t return to a “simpler time”.
Apple’s launch of the iPhone 6 Plus basically followed the above cycle, and despite its predictability, it annoyed me far too much. I take issue particularly with the final point above – middle-aged commentators, who still use a Nokia 3210, moaning about why others seem to live for their phones.
(Disclaimer: I’m not being ageist or critiquing others’ use of older phones. I’d ask older Nokia users to reciprocally take the same approach when discussing phones.)
They seem to adopt a Lady Bracknell attitude to anything that wasn’t created while they were 25 and express faux-confusion at any technology that wasn’t launched while the Sony Walkman was still clipped to the waists of their baggy stone-washed jeans. While conveniently forgetting all of the inconvenience this older technology caused.
My point is, the iPhone 6 (like its predecessors) is not simply a phone. Smartphones of all shades are basically small computers in our pockets, allowing us to do so much than make calls and play “Snake” (sorry, Nokia fans).
A quick brainstorm while awake at the crack of dawn this morning generated the following incomplete list:
- Reading and creating emails and managing multiple calendars to run a business
- On-the-go access to the internet and all the information is contains
- Apps for everything from music creation to health tracking
- Cameras to record a lifetime of memories (stills and video)
- Video conferencing apps to stay in touch with friends and family around the world
I could go on. But my point is this: people aren’t using smartphones to simple call people to tell them they’re going to be late (we have messaging apps for that after all).
They’re writing blog posts, sharing holiday photos with their friends, sharing music tracks, recording videos of babies and pets and planning their doctoral theses. They’re listening to music and audio books, planning their holidays, bidding for antiques and doing their weekly grocery shopping. They’re managing their personal finances and reading the news and looking at maps.
If you had a single small device in your pocket that could do all this (and more) wouldn’t you develop a slight attachment to it?
And yes, while it can all spill over into a more unhealthy attachment to technology, by and large I have to ask the critics: so what? So what if people are so excited about new technology that they want to queue up in the rain to get one of the first models? So what if they want to capture the moment on camera and high-five others as they leave the store?
How is any of this different to fans queuing to see a boy band, a football team or a film premiere? It’s passion. And (religious maniacs aside) I don’t think we have enough of this in the world.
Ignore the haters – if you’re excited about a new phone (be it iPhone, Android or even a Blackberry) walk tall and proud. Be creative, use it to do wonderful things and show others how.
Just don’t sit on it.