We love our phones.
No really, like we really love them, and probably for a good reason (or bad, depending on which side of the argument you fall). We spend most of our time today on smartphones swiping, tapping, liking, double tapping and responding to a long lost relative in a Bacon group on Facebook.
It’s almost that natural.
Sometimes though, we tend to forget just how much these things cost and why is it we’re so drawn to, say, a shiny new Apple iPhone every time for example.
What is the trick behind this?
Is it because it always looks shiny despite the fact that it almost looks exactly the same as the last iPhone from a year ago?
Well, it turns out there is a lot to consider here that really draws us to buy a new iPhone (or any phone), on a yearly or two year basis.
These factors may vary and some largely depending on carrier subsidies and such, but there are some underlying facts that also aim specifically at the iPhone in particular, its magic that keeps beckoning each time you want an upgrade.
So, here’s why you’ll always go iPhone or go home:
1. Neverending First iPhone Novelty
There is something about a new product that just says "buy me".
Sometimes you may not even need the thing but you have this urge to just get it. That is not by mistake, its actually some psychology at play.
I tried to find some answers to this. So, digging through I discovered some interesting studies that highlighted how these novelties affect a part of our brain. Some might even liken it with dopamine but they serve a different function (albeit one inevitably leads to the other). Here’s a quote from the article (emphasis mine):
"There’s a region in our midbrain called the substantia nigra/ventral segmental area or SN/VTA . This is essentially the major 'novelty center' of the brain, which responds to novel stimuli."
When a new iPhone is announced, this novelty acts as a calling. That itch you can’t seem to get rid of. It so happens that this doesn’t even include whether or not the new iPhone comes with some substantial changes or features, it just needs to be an iPhone. Period.
2. You Are Hoping To Impress Other People
So, to get a deeper understanding of this desire to get a new iPhone, I delved into some more details on what might surpass that novelty alone because let’s face it: like a hangover, the novelty will soon wear off (depending on how much you’re into it).
So what then fires up that desire?
The need to please people around you.
Well, this is an idea that was written by the minimalist blog and it states:
"In a wealthy society, envy quickly becomes a driving force for economic activity. Once all of our basic needs have been met, consumption must become about something more than needs. It becomes an opportunity to display our wealth, our importance, and our financial success with the world."
This is to be expected, and more often than not, a better representation of wealth is much characterized by owning an iPhone. It doesn’t always mean everyone whose wealthy has to buy an iPhone, though, or that class exclusively owns one. It becomes a matter of image; even when someone isn’t wealthy at all he/she still totes the new iPhone.
3. You Are Jealous Of People Who Have More (breathe, it’s natural)
Like the last point, this comes as an image factor. The perception of someone wealthy drives you to have one, and again, like the minimalist blog, Becoming Minimalist, says:
"Comparison seems to be a natural state of our humanity. We notice what other people are buying, wearing, and driving. Our society encourages these comparisons. And all too often, we buy stuff we don’t need just because people in our friendship circles have done the same. A culture fixated on praising exceeds will always misdefine true success."
So, say maybe your friend or colleague always seems to get a new iPhone every single time a new one comes out. And for some reason, said colleague/friend is perceived as 'wealthy' or classy. Envy then comes into play.
To seemingly match your colleague/friend, you’ll also be up to buy the iPhone just to be sure you’re on the same status. Now on the same level, you won’t have to be the odd one out, or feel jealous when they whip out that new phone.
4. Apple Has Mastered The Loyalty Business Model
It is by no mistake that you love the iPhone.
It’s great and beautifully crafted.
If you need any confirmation, you probably want to see one of those intro videos by one Sir Jony Ive. He quite literally (okay, this might be a stretch) sings how beautiful and meticulous it is but there is no disagreeing.
That is all Apple. They have mastered the loyalty business model: great products, great customer service, industry leading customer sat (see, Tim Cook repeats this on stage so often, too. This is also how it embeds that 'superior product' mentality into our subconscious).
Complaints on bad experiences with iPhones barely stop people from purchasing them because the system has already been gamed. The same applies with how most will say the iPhone is 'overpriced’. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on the loyalty business model and product pricing:
"Likewise, a customer can be dissatisfied with the service encounter and still perceive the overall quality to be good. This occurs when a quality service is priced very high and the transaction provides little value."
So you might call out the iPhone all you want for being overpriced but that is probably by design.
That is not to say you should stop getting a new iPhone, or the iPhone is 'bad' in any sort of way. In fact, I’ll probably get myself the new iPhone, too. All there is to know is that itch to get a new iPhone, by far outweighs the number of GBs and such people keep yammering about, because most people just want a goddamn iPhone.
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