September 10th 2019. Another day and another product launch. This time, it was the turn of Apple to launch a new (or sort of new) series of gadgets which to an everyday Joe were just
September 10th 2019. Another day and another product launch. This time, it was the turn of Apple to launch a new (or sort of new) series of gadgets which to an everyday Joe were just another bunch of products thrown at him under a cloud of brand new launches. I have thought about this for long and today’s event finally made me write about it. Do we as everyday consumers really care about new products launch every 6 months? Is there an overload of evolutionary technology that will affect our lives? Although I appreciate technology and tend to keep an eye out for ground breaking stuff, the sheer number of product launches, brands and delicacy of gadgets coming out every day has diluted the revolutionary aspect of it. I will explain why I say so in the coming sections.
The Technology: Is it really ground breaking to break the bank?
Every year, tech giants hold massive conventions that attract the attention of the entire world. The events are so anticipated and marketed that the whole world comes to a standstill. Take an example of Apple’s Keynote on 10th September 2019. The news about this event was widely covered on major news channels and publications across the world, so much so that far more important happenings in the world were put on the back pages. Apple launched newer products such as Apple Watch Series 5, Apple iPad with a 10.2 inch screen display and most importantly, the new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro.
As I watched the event unfold, it quickly became clear that almost all of these products were an evolution of their predecessors instead of completely new or ground-breaking devices. And this is the trend across the industry for past few years. So it begs to ask a question. Is all the fan-fare really necessary? Would our everyday Joe appreciate or care less if they were launched by the company on its website? And are these products really ground-breaking enough for him to spend thousands of dollars on upgrading to something which is not going to make much difference to his life?
Take an example of iPhone 11 Pro (and many such products out in the market). It now comes with 3 cameras, A13 bionic chip which aids machine learning, better battery life, new colours and 4K video shooting to name a few.
Now out of all these features, which do you think our average Joe will appreciate most? For him the only thing that comes close to ground breaking is the addition of 4 hours to the battery life as it directly affects his everyday life. Let us say that it gives him a peace of mind. Rest of the features such as A13 bionic chip, machine learning or 3 cameras (which other phones have had for past couple of years) don’t really warrant his attention, energy and time as they are something that do not change the way he goes about everyday things.
So if we look at all the products that the tech companies launch every year, can we answer the question in the affirmative that each product deserves our undivided attention and investment? You would be hard pressed to do so given the fact that most of these products are an evolution rather than revolution.
The myth that unless you launch so called new products every 6 months, people will never come back to you is something which needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. This will avoid a future which would become tremendously materialistic and hard to sustain. This is the myth that these tech companies need to move away from. And it is a vicious circle that we as consumers need to stay clear of and realise that unless there is a real need or a possibility of a profound change in our lives, the temptation to upgrade should be curbed.
The YouTube overload: Why technology reviews are fast becoming a nuisance?
YouTube is a platform that is powerful enough to entertain and educate us in different aspects. However, go to YouTube and what you find is an overload of technology reviewers who review the same product in their own biased way. Recently I bought my first personal laptop after almost 10 years without owning one. During my research, what I found on YouTube is a huge overload of product reviews that led to immense confusion, so much so that, the main reason for watching YouTube reviews was completely defeated.
I went to YouTube in the hope of making my buying decision easier and stress free. What it ended up doing was throw me into an even further product feature) eventually made me listen to my heart and head and purchase the product of my choice without worrying of the consequences. Let us just say that I ignored the reviewers.
It is precisely this fact (and I am sure I am not the only one who went through this ordeal) that I hope we as humans try and de-clutter in our lives. We need to learn to take matters in our own hands, make decisions based on personal choice and likings without any external influence and for once, try and be like we were 20 years back when all purchasing decisions were guided by natural human feelings.
Need, affection towards a product and dream of owning one are things we miss far too often in today’s world.. Life was simple back then and we can make it simple again by avoiding this trap of the review world.
The consumer power: Do we as consumers have the appetite to sustain this trend?
Think about it. Do you really need a new phone every 1 year? Does your life stagnate so much or does it change so fast that it warrants investments in new technology and products every year? The trap of dangerous marketing gimmicks around us is so real, that we need to think twice while falling prey to them.
Come to think of it and you will realise that a high quality product with the latest and greatest features can last for a minimum of 5 years or more (unless of course you break it or something catastrophic happens with the core product itself). Take an example of the phone I own. I bought the most premium phone in the market in 2015 after my previous phone (which lasted 4 years) eventually broke down due to hardware issues. However, I strictly bought the new one with the sole thought of using it for a minimum of 5 years. Since then, hundreds of new phones and their revisions have come and gone. But I personally haven’t been compelled to upgrade since the pace of technology change hasn’t warranted a new investment.
I still use the same Apps on my phone as I used 5 years back. I use Google maps for my navigation, WhatsApp to connect with my loved ones, basic phone and messaging apps, camera to click photos and few social networking apps to connect with my friends. Although I do have a few other Apps installed, I use them occasionally.
Whenever I see new phones in stores, I quickly remove my phone from its cover and realise that what I want is what I have. All I need to be productive in my life is right in my pocket. May be, I will change my phone after a couple of years if something revolutionary comes that will make my life better, but till then I weigh in the fact that what I have and what I am missing should be justifiable enough while making that next purchasing decision.
So, we as consumers have to realise that this trend of buckling under the constant marketing pressure of these tech giants and YouTube reviewers is unsustainable in the short and long term. Finally, we have to take control of our decisions and not let the outer world control our choices and wallets.
I love technology: So what am I trying to say?
By now, you would be thinking that I am a person who falls in the category of people who despise technology and everything that is core to the humankind: progress. But the above 3 points are simply an attempt at bringing in a perspective which we as consumers sometimes tend to lose sight of in this gimmicky world. I appreciate technology as much as everyone and feel it is the key to our progress as humans. It is going to help us take great leaps in the future and take us where no human has gone before.
But in all of this, we need to keep a close eye on how we deal with the extensive marketing overload and ensure we stay away from the materialistic mindset. We need to take a step back and realise the fact that things do not necessarily need to change as fast as they are. May be we can all do with a sense of calm and stability in our lives. May be this thirst for constant change is somewhere deeply affecting us as humans to an extent where we are losing sight of what we need and what we don’t.
It’s up to us to decide whether we are on the inside of this vicious circle or on the outside.