The world is on the brink.
Evil kills good people with mass shootings, tensions with North Korea increase daily, and actors abuse actors as sexual playthings.
Yet despite the torture of humanity, thousands of people complain about the iPhone X’s notch.
Not me. I enjoyed the iPhone tittle tattle. In the run up to the iPhone X’s release I salivated over articles on the X’s lush colours, OLED screen, Face ID, super-duper performance, glass construction, wireless charging, bionic chips. Oh, how I could go on.
I read political stories too but only to feel more adult.
On October 27th I sat by the iMac and waited until 08:00 am to pre-order the iPhone X — like millions of other people — I hit refresh repeatedly.
What is it about the iPhone X that drives me to pre-order, and because I expected a 10th anniversary phone, join the Apple Upgrade Programme?
Is it madness?
More money than sense?
Am I still 13½ years old?
(Those were rhetorical questions).
The answer might be clever marketing because after two months with the iPhone X, I’ve done nothing the one-year-old 7 Plus wasn’t capable of.
My first encounter with Apple — the iPod Classic — was a difficult decision. A friend recommended the Creative Zen MP3 player, but it was near obsolete so I opted for the iPod and the addiction began.
Perhaps if I’d opted for the Zen, I’d be using an Android phone today.
A few years passed and BBC News featured a new phone called iPhone. But I gazed at my silver Sony Ericsson and wondered what more you’d want in a phone?
And the cost 11 years ago? I would never pay £30 a month for a carrier contract. However after coffee with friends, who all had an iPhone, coupled with an illness in the family to emphasise the impermanence of life, I went iPhone.
One iTunes library, four iPhones, two iPads, one iMac and a MacBook Pro later, I’m beyond redemption.
But brand loyalty can’t be why I ‘rented’ the iPhone X. I could have kept the 7 Plus.
I tried to resist the X and considered the smaller iPhone 8. The size was perfect, but the camera would be a step down.
The 8 is cheaper on the upgrade programme. £18 less than the X or £12 less for the Plus. But the iPhone 8 Plus offers little that’s new since it’s the 7 Plus in glass.
There’s no such thing. The charger mat still needs plugged in.
The iPhone 8 is a decoy phone — the iPhone 7s.
But iPhone 8 can’t be why I fell for the X. My 7 Plus was still a premium phone without a scratch.
When I was a child, I got excited about Christmas from around September.
For Apple’s 10th anniversary iPhone my anticipation began one year before release. No sooner was the 7 Plus in my hand, the tech press speculated on the next iPhone.
The whole market place was primed by the media and whipped into a frenzy.
Rumours, from people familiar with the situation, leaked as usual but with one difference.
2017 saw the leaking of price. Customers needed to be acclimatised to the first £1000 phone so when it became official, the shock factor would be lost.
You’ve been primed.
In marketing terms, priming is the preparation of subconscious consumer behaviour through the subtle use of information. The new X for example, was secret, but there was just enough sexy news to whet your appetite.
The X was everywhere and nowhere.
But stories about a non-existent phone cannot be the reason I wanted one. There are stories about HomePods, cellular watches and iPad Pros and I want none of those (fingers crossed).
After a succession of similar iPhones, the X promised reinvention.
The X’s keynote described the product as the future and you can hold it in your hand.
The message was misleading. Edge to edge displays, wireless charging, OLED screens and facial recognition, have been available on other phones for years.
But know this, the X looks beautiful, when switched on. When off, it looks like the Blackberry Leap. The build quality is superb though.
It’s a wonder of marketing. You can feel unique using a product when millions upon millions of people across the world have the product too.
But an OLED screen and facial recognition can’t be reasons to spend £56 a month. The 7 Plus screen is fabulous and fingerprint ID seamless.
If having the future isn’t enough to make you buy, there’s always fear.
Scarcity and fear of missing out (FOMO) come into play.
If one thing puts the fear of God into consumers, it’s the wait to get what they want.
When I was a small boy, my favourite superhero was Spider-man. I begged Mum to buy me a Spider-man figure. At the toyshop we discovered it would be weeks before Spider-man would be back in stock.
So what did I do? I settled for the Human Torch (one of the Fantastic Four). I regretted it soon after and my impatience meant I didn’t get Spider-man, ever.
When impatience strikes, I think Spider-man.
Drip feeding consumers with stories of scarcity and production line problems fan the flames of fear, the fear of missing out.
I knew the X’s production would be fine and prepared to wait. Supply problem stories come out before every iPhone launch. In terms of missing out, of all features, only Face ID and Animojis were absent from the 7 Plus.
So, FOMO can’t be why I wanted an iPhone X.
£1000 is scary for a phone but it’s not £1000 more than we’re used to paying.
Prices have crept up for years, and be honest, if you can afford £700 or £800 for a phone, you can also afford £1000. Apple know it too.
It may be borderline out of reach but it’s also borderline within reach.
A high price is one tactic marketers use to put the quality of a product in the mind of consumers.
The high price tag of the X may set it apart from competitors but cost definitely isn’t the reason to want the X.
My late Dad used to say there’s no such thing as a bad car. In the 1970s, cars looked good in the showroom but once you drove one and it rained, they rusted and fell apart before you got home. Cars are not like that anymore.
Like cars today, there’s no such thing as a bad phone. Most brands have caught up.
You’ll not do anything different on the X than you could do on many of the latest smart phones.
The X may not be the future, just a brilliant phone that perfects what others have already done, while leaving room for development.
Over a year I’ll pay £677 to hire Apple’s latest palm-top computer. The device I use everywhere to read, write, take pictures, research, web browse, meditate, enjoy music. Oh and make phone calls.
Why do I want one?
It’s not brand loyalty, decoys, scarcity or the features.
In 1923 when asked by a New York Times reporter why he wanted to climb Everest, George Mallory said “Because it is there”.
I want the iPhone X for the same reason you do — because it is there.
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