Reinforcing Dependent Consumerism At a Store Near You...

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circuitbored
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Reinforcing Dependent Consumerism At a Store Near You...

Post by circuitbored »

People are furious these days, some at least, while others are in line to spend 600$ on a first generation iPad, the new device you won't be using in 2 years. Why won't you be using that first generation iPad in 2 years? Because 2 new iPads will have come out by then that you simply must have.

Companies have learned from drug dealers. They've got you hooked on their supply. The ideal of buying electronics that last is dead. The latest and greatest will only be "leased" to you whether you like it or not. Companies have actually begun to bank on yearly returns based on creating "versions" of their hardware rather than making completed and quality products. The concept of "versioning" developed originally for software development, now applies to the electronic hardware you buy from your cell phone down to your blender.

Thinking of buying a 3DTV? Great, throw that old HDTV that you never got to fully use out of the window and give us your credit card! We'll have you set up with a new one along with a myriad of hidden costs [for a tuner box, cables, and new DVD player] so your friends will say "wow!" when they come to your house [provided you have bought them each an expensive set of viewing glasses for the full 3DHDTV experience]. Got it installed? Great, oh wait, version 2.0 has come out, and DVDs have been out of date for over 4 years now, your units are no longer supported. Sorry Sucker!

The alarming rise in consumer costs and disposable electronics signals a new era. We are becoming more like Japan. In many ways new technology is great. Enabling us to become more immersed in communication, and helping us to learn things we'd have to scour 10 libraries to find. We have more choice as long as it makes providers more money. We should be thankful, but at the same time watchful.

How can Apple ever be a "green company" if their older devices will populate landfills at an alarming rate [every 2 years or less] corresponding with their strategic releases of new products? Remember all of the harmful and toxic chemicals that are inside the batteries in each iPhone that cannot be easily replaced, and the plastic and metal that comprise each phone that cannot be extracted easily. They're not recycling, that's just a sticker there... Just think of all the plasma and LCD screens being tossed into landfills as you read, oozing toxic sludge into the ground every time it rains. Its then that the great concept of "disposable technology" becomes a troubling issue, and a lie that changes the image a company tries to portray.

In addition to the wasted materials, most of which do not get recovered for recycling, there's a huge waste of consumer money. Reading an article on Mashable today, there was a news leak on the iPhone 4G. This new phone is revolutionary, no wait, MUCH more revolutionary than its predecessors by adding all of the features the prior iPhone has, 4G Internet speed for a slightly faster browsing experience and a FLASH FOR YOUR CAMERA! Underwhelming to me at least.

Sorry folks, it may just be me, but I'm absolutely not wooed to the iPhone 4G by promises of a camera flash. At this stage, the only thing that would compel me to buy a phone over 250$ is solar power for an endless power supply, being able to store 250GB of music and files that beam wirelessly and in Hi-Def to my car stereo through blue tooth, and the ability of said phone to project HDTV onto any wall for entertaining friends and family. A flash for my camera has been on every Blackberry I've had for the last 5 years, its nothing new, standard [as an expectation] to be honest.

Why do companies roll out technology with a lack of features that consumers would want? Its simple. Profit maximization. A company can create the ultimate phone, with all of the features that one would want in a cutting edge phone, then they remove each feature until they create a "base model". Then they plan a schedule of releases that add these features one after the other [with each "new" version release] so that each new phone has the features that their predecessor didn't to create the publicly perceived illusion of added value and innovation. Meanwhile, consumers that fall for it end up buying essentially and virtually the same phone over and over again with modest enhancements. What good does versioning do in this case?

When do we get to the point that adding a camera or a flash for it on an iPhone becomes a radical consumer inspiration [promoted on the front page of CNN.Com] for buying? When we're getting fleeced, that's when...

The same model was used in sales of the Sony Playstation and X-Box as well. Storage options were offered, the smaller hard drive version pretty much was instantly obsolete. It was also a common scenario when you buy a game that you've been waiting for for ages, and then you find out that the 60$ game also requires you to buy a new 40$ game controller to play it, rather than also being able to be run with standard devices. Make no mistake, these types of required hardware upgrades are "forced upgrades", that are reverse engineered by hardware producers. Releases like this constitute false advertising and they encourage hidden pricing for devices among competitors.

Now I know some of you would say "Just don't buy the game or phone then!". While saying that is not unreasonable, if we were all aware about this opportunistic system and we didn't buy anything using this model, companies would be forced to stop the practice of reverse/release engineering or to release innovative devices so that newer [and far better] innovations could arise. The problem is that though I may not support some of these retailers on an individual level, many still do, they won't get the message to move technology forward unless a mass movement is created.

These practices stunt innovative growth, they feed land fills, and they require you to spend much more than you should have to. Its hard to see how changing business models can't be seen as beneficial to everyone involved in this picture. Companies can charge more for products because they are more original and innovative and they have tangible value. Consumers will buy products because they have features that are truly needed and desired. And the world will be much better without land fulls of defunct iPhones.

Consumers lately have also been up in arms over a new proposal for carry-on baggage fees in the airline industry, this is yet another charge that once would have never "flown". Why don't these airline carriers simply raise the price of tickets instead? No, they wouldn't dare because then it would look like they were being "greedy". They'd much rather rely on deceptive advertising tactics which run rampant in the face of a lack of consumer protection to bail them out when they're in a pinch due to being inefficient. What drives this endless quest for profit maximization by companies? The markets do. In order to have glorious reports, customers must be "shorted" and "manipulated" as often as possible, and that's you.

Markets drive big business and decisions for big business more and more these days rather than customers. Now you may not see that as a big problem, but I do as a consumer. When you buy a can of Coca-Cola, you're paying for the can, the liquid inside and the commercials you have to sit through during your favorite movie or TV show. When you buy a can of Coke, you're also driving sales that shareholders make money off of. No wonder why the cost of a can of Coca-Cola is increasing...

Citing all of these things, this fleecing trend is poised to spread when you choose big business products. If you buy an iPhone, prepare to [in a few years] be required to buy your previously included calendar application for $5, your previously free phone book for $15, application, the phone's operating system previously free for $50/annually, and to eventually have unlimited phone calling disappear once again in favor of expensive minute-to-minute phone calls because the new iPhone will only be available on special "expensive" phone plans by exclusive carriers, and you thought your cable bill was bad! Good luck with managing a mortgage and retirement... Change the system by changing how you consume.

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