I’ll admit I don’t understand all the fuss about Apple’s forthcoming iPhone, which just seems like an overpriced BlackBerry to me. (Like I know—I’ve never had a cell phone or any gadget that gets emails or text messages. I received a Palm Pilot for Christmas one year in the 1990s and I never took it out of the box—it seemed inherently inferior to my preferred PDA, a spiral notebook. So you can discount my opinion accordingly.) The iPod was successful mainly because it created its own market for mp3 players. But people already have phones and they probably aren’t going to adopt Cingular and abandon their current service (usually contracted for years and with penalties for breaking it off) just for whatever minimal cachet comes from being an iPerson. (And I know the more I see that douche-bag hipster in Apple’s commercials, the less I personally want to be one—an iPerson that is; I’m probably a douche bag already.) And those who for whatever reason need to be reading email while walking down the street, driving their car or sitting in a restaurant already can, and they are already accustomed to twiddling their thumbs on the little keypads—they probably won’t want to switch to the touch screen interface Apple’s peddling here. Apparently the hope is that some suckers will want iPhone because the DRM-crippled iTunes collection they’ve already amassed will play on it. And then perhpas some of these people will become so enamored of the OS X style interface, they’ll start buying Mac PCs. However, my guess is only Apple cultists buy this particular gadget in the first place.
All that being said, I don’t know why I feel invested in this gadget’s success at all. I have the feeling that the iPod, like cultural phenomena like Nirvana and Pulp Fiction, served to mainstream a certain kind of hipsterdom that seems like a parody of ideals I once held, and I guess I’m still bitter about that. Apple’s whole business model seems predicated on coolness, the same way Tiffany’s is based on exculsivity and snobbery. I’m in favor of less snobbery; I hope the next revolutionary gadget will expose all gadgets to be interchangeable commodities, with nothing going for them but their functionality. I can dream, can’t I?
(Thanks to englishrussia.com for the image.)