Happy New Year! It is almost impossible to get through an entire calendar year without the need to upgrade or replace some seemingly essential piece of electronic technology. In my line of work, it happens even more frequently than that. Not that I am a gadget guru; I’m far from that, but with the number of computers, printers, scanners and various modes of communication that I use, there is always something coming to the end of its practical life. And every time that happens I am forced to go stand on the curb and watch the Emperor parade by, showing off his fabulous new clothes.
I have been doing this for so long that I remember when the Emperor’s tailor used to “make his clothes” without the all mighty “i”! Even in those pre-historic early days of floppy discs and monochrome CRTs, there were fans who raved at the innovative, stylish dress of each new suit of clothes. They bragged how they could see the quality in those fine threads and if you couldn’t, then you were just not cool or smart or worthy. I remember being enticed, almost able to imagine that carefully stitched gold embroidery, those magical lacy ruffles, and the perfect, easy fit. The tide of the growing international mass hysteria almost swept me off my feet, but reason prevailed and I realized that I did not see any new clothes. I know I will be harassed with hateful emails and horrid comments, but I have news for you, the Emperor is really naked, and you have all been duped.
Over the years, the guidance of reasoned thinking has evolved as readily as the lure of “the new clothes.” When I first started looking at the Fruit of Temptation (isn’t it interesting that it is named Apple), I was trying to budget the cost of “the new age of information” for my tiny cash-strapped business. In my research I discovered that the software written for the ignorant DOS users cost half as much as it cost for the Apple Emperor’s new OS. The passionate, rabid believers argued with me that the mouse worked better, the processor never locked up, and operating system was incredibly easy to use, so what if it costs more? As Apple evolved and the serpent of “status consumerism” grew, I watched from the sidelines, sometimes smiling in realization of the bare-assed truth, and sometimes wondering if I was missing something.
The Apple became a Macintosh, which became just plain old Mac. Then the powers-that-be realized that the whole farce of “nouveau status” was a trick of the eye. So Mac became iMac. iMac begat iPod who begat iBook who begat iPad and eventually, as a product of inbreeding, the iPhone V was born.
Now for those of you who believe you can see those new clothes, my words will fall on deaf ears. Sure you can buy an MP3 player for $30-$40, but why would you when you can buy an iPod for $250? Yes, Samsung makes a pretty good phone, but if you pay in advance, campout in the rain, and spend twice as much money, you too, can be among the elite who can own the newly announced iPhone iOS7 and get rid of that archaic months-old iPhone V.
Value is in the perception. Did you see Jimmy Kimmel’s satirical skit where he showed people an iPhone IV but told them it was an iPhone V? You had to laugh at the people who raved how much lighter, faster, bigger and brighter it was than their old iPhone IV. Maybe you’ve seen the newest car models that all have an iPod dock built into the console. People find the perception of value in the guise of status consumerism.
Was Steve Jobs smart? Hello! Yes! Look at how many people are ‘iBroke’ from the ‘iGottaHaveIts’. But contrary to popular belief, Steve Jobs NEVER walked on water. He did, however; figure out how to make people envision each little innovation as the most important discovery in history, worthy of discarding perfectly good, expensive equipment in the illogical desire to upgrade to his newest toy. Beauty is in the “i” of the beholder, and behold the Emperor’s new clothes are just an illusion (I hope, because I don’t own a single Apple).