Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Apple Takes Planned Obsolescence To A Whole New Level

Here it comes.  It's a moment many gadget addicts have anticipated.  Apple is rolling out a 4G iPad.  That's nice for those folks who like throwing away $499 on something that is only a marginal improvement over the previous thing that now costs "only" $399.  This does not count the monthly subscription you pay to a WiFi service, which by definition is unsecure and easily sniffed by hackers.  I just don't get how people can get excited over something that has to be completely replaced when the battery goes out.

I'm sounding a wake-up call that will go unheard but I can't live with myself by remaining silent.  The genius factory that Steve Jobs built is just another oligopoly pushing planned obsolescence on a buying public that should know better.  The cute little tablet that took the world by storm is just a commodity to this here non-user.  Pretty soon all of the Chinese engineers reverse engineering the thing will have a generic copy out for less than $50.  Electronic book reading is the future but that does not mean the future has to be expensive.  There's only so much market growth a premium electronic product can wring out of the industrialized West and Apple's marketers know it.  They don't waste time growing the nonexistent iPad market among African bushmen who live beyond the reach of a WiFi signal.  Instead, they know the real money is made from selling tiny improvements to existing customers who just have to show off the latest gizmo to friends.  That's the real genius of the iPad's adoption.  It's not the capabilities that matter; it's the peer acceptance.

Having common sense does not make me a Luddite.  My first computer was an Apple Macintosh because I had grown accustomed to using one in my undergraduate studies.  My next one was a PC because I needed something that was cheaper than a premium product and would translate to what the rest of the world used.  Apple's technology is great for getting hobbyists excited.  My rose-colored glasses came off years ago.

Full disclosure:  No position in AAPL at this time.