Friday, September 07, 2007

Nancy Reagan's answer for iPhone owners

It started off as "the right thing to say." It became a joke, and eventually became a cultural icon.

But I'm afraid it's also the answer to the folks who are whining about the $200 premium they paid for their iPhones. I've read recently that many of them feel victimized, used and abused. They're saying that they'd been listening to the iPhone hype for two years, and when the iPhones finally came out, they absolutely, positively just had to have one. Right away. No matter what it cost.

And I'm sorry, but the simple, sane answer is, "No - no, you really didn't absolutely have to have an iPhone. Nancy Reagan was right....Just say no."

No to $600 phones, and $300 jeans, and $40,000 soccer-mom vans. No to $200-a-month cell-phone texting bills. No to $500 gaming consoles and $1,500 plasma HD TVs, too.

And in case you were thinking of calling me an "old poop," just get at the end of a long line of folks over the last 20 years. I was the same way about Air Jordan basketball shoes. In 1985. (That's 22 years ago, for you calculator-impaired folks.) And those $200 NFL team coats, back when $200 meant something.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not sin-free in this area. Techno-gadgets are my downfall. I've probably paid close to a thousand dollars, over the last ten years, on cell-phones alone. (Hell, I've probably paid $200 in those stupid corded earphone/mike attachments, alone, not to mention chargers, cases, blah blah blah). I bought the first Sprint PCS phone, when it was a specialty-green brick with the pop-up screen. I know what it's like to pay top-dollar for being an early adopter.

But that's the point. Everyone who wants to be "the first on the block" knows that they pay a premium (and sometimes, a ridiculous premium) for being first. Look at all the morons who stood in lines for this gaming console or that one, even a few short months ago.

And let's face it, every single iPhone owner got his or her $200 of instant coolness. But the fact is, Apple introduced the iPhone in a sinking market, in a sinking economy, and it wasn't a perfect phone to begin with (especially riding the AT&T-rebranded Cingular BS network). So it's no surprise that they paid a massive premium for it. It's no different than standing outside some domed stadium, paying $1,000 for SuperBowl tickets or two seats to see Aerosmith or Billy Joel or whomever.

You're paying to be exclusive. It's how God separates fools from their money. So shut the hell up about it.

No sympathy here, folks. In my mind, anyone who can pay $600 for a phone should be required to make an equal-sized contribution to the local food-pantry. Not to punish them - but because it's the right damn thing to do.

And lest you think I don't practice what I preach, I have made a commitment to contribute to charity an amount equal to what I spend at Amazon and Borders. If I can afford the books and the CDs, I can afford the contribution. Period.

I dare the owners of iPhones - who HAD to be exclusive by belonging to the first-on-the-block club - to take that $100 coupon, and take it to your local school or Head Start program, and let THEM use it.

Because they need the money a hell of a lot more than you do. Your phone proves it.

And if you want to call me up and bitch about it, you can call me on my $49 already-obsolete-when-I-bought-it RAZR phone...


Peter said...

Yes, Steve man.

Michael Dodd said...

Billy Joel?

Kind of reminds me of the scene in Man for All Seasons when Sir Thomas More confronts Richard Rich with having been rewarded with a government post in Wales for perjuring himself to obtain More's conviction: "Richard, it profits a man nothing to lose his soul to gain the whole world. But for Wales?"

The word verification is vyqheqsf -- make that initial v a w and you have a nice Welsh village name. (And, yes, I'm Welsh.)

Kyle said...

old poop... I don't think I've ever called anyone an old poop before...

Im A Foto Nut said...

Hey, don't get me started about the headsets for cell phones. I have never had one work correctly, and if it did, it never did it for long. I finally just gave up, and get a cramp in my finger while talking on it in the car. UGH!

Tom Scharbach said...

The young folks seem to live on their PDA's, which they are transforming into primary information and communication centers before our eyes.

No amount of whining by fogies like you and me will either stop or slow down the transformation. The young are using the technology to good advantage and know it, even if we don't use it or want to see it.

I'll grant you that there's much to be said about self-indulgence in technology -- people who immediately buy into the "next generation" of PDA technology are paying a tremendous premium for it, just like the folks who foolishly buy flat screen HDTV's now, before volume manufacturing drops the price to reasonable levels, as it will in a year or two. And I wonder, like you, whether the premium might be better spent on other things.

I don't own a PDA, and I don't intend to use that technology any time soon. But I know, because I continue to work in web development, and because I am surrounded by younger people who use PDA's as effortlessly as I use a computer, that PDA's are integrated into the lives of younger people, and that's a fact that's not going to change.

I guess that a certain level of self-indulgence is just part of human nature -- who needs power windows in cars (another thing I don't plan to adopt until I need to), for example, except the handicapped or elderly, but most people "buy up" to that level of helplessness through "convenience packages". At least PDA technology, unlike power windows, accomplish something valuable for the people who have adopted it, something that they could not get without it.

Tom Scharbach said...

Steve, I'm curious. Where did you get the $600 figure?

I was surprised by that and Googled iPhone offers. I'm finding iPhones selling retail in the $300-$400 range, comparable to BlackBerry retail prices.

The BlackBerry's, of course, are marketed for much less ($399 phone for $74, for example, when purchased with a two-year service plan from one provider). I didn't dig deep enough to see if the iPhones are being similarly discounted. If not, I assume that they will soon be -- as the rebates you mention suggest.

Apple technology always seems to priced higher than more mainstream competitors. I wonder why, myself. I guess its the idea that it is "with it" to be "alternative".