Sunday, January 31, 2016
102. Apple and Its Strategy of Feeding on Our Conspicuous Consumption
When I started using a Mac in 2005, I was finally relieved of the viruses that plagued Windows. I thought I joined the elite group of computer enthusiasts who could afford to blow 100 grand on a white machine. I often sneered at my fellow lawyers who continued to toil on what I perceived as inferior products of Apple's competitors, and I enjoyed listening to MacCast, a podcast exclusively on Apple products. This feeling of superiority is the same feeling that Thorstein Veblen observed in his Theory of the Leisure Class, where he hypothesized that people of leisure consume not because of need but because of the want to be better than their neighbors. Well, I don't belong to the leisure class as I have to toil day and night to keep body and soul together, but I think that indeed, conspicuous consumption has been prevalent in this age of technology, where everyone is in a race to have the fastest, spunkiest, coolest, and often most expensive gadget in the world. Within months I have accumulated six IBooks, one MacBook Air, three IMacs, and two MacMinis. I've assigned the lBooks and MacMinis to the associates and staff in the office and used the IMacs and MacBook for work. We were probably the only virus free law firm in the country. But soon enough, Apple was updating its operating system in rapid succession, and the Apple system I have in the office was outdated in less than two years. Suddenly, the threat of computer viruses has been replaced by an even more serious threat of absolecense. With this trend I reckoned, our office would have to spend more than half a million pesos on Apple computers every two years, which is too much, considering we only use the computers for word processing and email. Yet, I caught Apple's strategy early enough: Apple is going to dump us with new and cool stuff every six months, feeding our propensity for conspicuous consumption, and blurring our vision on how much money we should be spending on its gadgets, which we will take away from other items in our budget such as wellness and health. Thus, before Apple could make more moves to convince us that our old Macs are no longer cool, we shifted back to Windows, which is no longer prone to viruses, at least for the moment. But Apple is unrelenting. The strategy of preying on people's propensity for conspicuous consumption is also employed on iPhones, which went from small to big, thick to thin, and which was originally a music hard drive that grew antennas and became phones and internet devices. This has got to stop. People shouldn't be blowing serious money on smartphones every year. Unfortunately, we all fall into this magical daze whenever Apple has a new product, and like the kids lured by the Pied Piper of Hamelin, we follow Apple's lead and, in exchange for a year of gadget bliss, we give it our money in reckless abandon.