Posts Tagged ‘iPhone

04
Mar
08

The Lone Exception

If you’ve ever wondered whether an iPhone can bring down a plane if left on during takeoff and landing, I have personal proof that it takes more than one. My seat partner on my journey out to E-Tech yesterday felt no urge whatsoever to follow the flight attendant’s instructions and power down his iPhone. I suspect he probably wasn’t the only one, and I have my own suspicions about the validity of such restrictions, but the flight attendant pointedly stopped and asked him to turn it off. He went through the motions, continuing his usage after she moved past our seats. This individual considered himself the lone exception to a standard the the majority had no issue complying with.

For all our recent love affair with group involvement, community-based efforts, and other multi-person action, individuals still consider themselves the exception to certain rules. This belief is two-pronged: on the positive side, there’s the individuals who take a stand against, often alone, the powers that be to accomplish change that benefits the whole; on the negative side, there’s the individuals who believe that their actions needn’t follow the “rules.” I find myself awkwardly straddling this argument because I’m by no means a believer that one should follow the rules “just because.” However, if you choose to participate in society, some of the trade offs do include a willingness to not be the lone exception.

For example, what if I elected to ignore the traffic signals while driving? The people around me have no way of knowing (and then taking safety precautions) that I’ve chosen to not follow the rules until I broadside someone in an intersection. To me, the continued use of the iPhone wasn’t the issue so much as it was the thinking that drove the behavior. Where do we draw the line between acting against community standards and crossing into the dangerous territory of individual behavior negatively impacting the surrounding people?

This question goes back to one of the original ideas behind this blog: how much thought do we give to our actions? Whether it’s the words we speak or the behavior we choose, I believe we don’t give it enough thought. Perhaps we think about what happened afterward, but because of the fast pace many of us take in life, the idea of thinking before acting seems down the priority list a bit. There will always be a place for the lone exceptions of the world, but it stops being lone when everyone believes their behavior is exempt.

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27
Oct
07

If We Like You, You Can Buy An iPhone

I’m always intrigued when a company puts limits on how you can buy its products. Most recently, Apple instituted a policy that only allows buyers to purchase two iPhones (previously five) and they must do so with a credit or debit card to track the purchase.

“Customer response to the iPhone has been off the charts, and limiting iPhone sales to two per customer helps us ensure that there are enough iPhones for people who are shopping for themselves or buying a gift,” Kerris said. “We’re requiring a credit or debit card for payment to discourage unauthorized resellers.” (link)

Huh. Apple is notorious for “caring” what customers do with their products and software after purchase, but the verbiage in this case is so interesting. The new policy is couched in terms of protecting potential iPhone customers from dangerous, “unauthorized resellers.” I don’t recall Apple attempting to protect its customers from itself when it sold the iPhone for $600, then dropped the price a few months later.

Perhaps I’m drawing a connection where none exists, but Apple’s attitude that only it can use market demand to advantage is funny. Why didn’t Apple’s new policy simply state, “Depending on our mood, we’ll sell you an iPhone.” Better yet, “If we like you, we’ll let you buy an iPhone.”

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03
Oct
07

The Comfort of Continuity

Yesterday, I ran into someone I see about once a year. I’ve known this person for probably close to 20 years. Even though he’s only a few years older than I, without fail, every time he see me, he remarks on how I haven’t changed at all. The whole exchange made me wonder, how many people actually believe that individuals, and even institutions, don’t change over time?

For many things, we appreciate continuity, the sense of something lasting. We search for a lodestone to hold onto. We want our friends to be our friends forever. We want our families to stay together and be happy. We want to go to the same doctor, dentist, and hair dresser. We take comfort in certain things staying the same. It makes it easier to deal with the other parts of life that are always changing.

In the Voting Booth

Politicians get that. I suspect we see so many images of “times gone past” and hear stirring declarations of “how the world should be” because we want to believe in the American ideal, the American dream of a better life. So we continue to vote the same back-slapping, pork-spending, favor-granting politicians into office, because the candidates who tell the truth, that choices must be made, don’t support our need for comfortable continuity. Sometimes, continuity requires sacrifice.

Winston Churchill understood that, and in his speech after the fall of France, he made it clear that Britain had two choices:

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.

Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ (link)

I’d be curious to know from everyone reading this post, will you vote for the individuals currently representing you in Congress, based on their record? I ask because I know some elected officials do try to represent the interests of their constituents, regardless of party, but are pushed back because of the difficulty in dealing with the majority.

At the Checkout Stand

A similar thing happens in business, too. We’re encouraged to show brand loyalty, we’re led to believe that the purchase of a particular product will somehow enhance our lives. The story also implies that if we stop purchasing a particular brand, we’ve broken the continuity, that somehow, an essential part of ourselves will be missing.

Apple does a particularly good job of telling this story. In spite of closing the iPhone to all but minor development via the Safari browser, people still stood in line. Now, the creative individuals who hacked their iPhone are faced with an update that will turn their phones into bricks. But people, like Wil Shipley, still love Apple, even as they struggle with the closed system.

Sure, Apple’s still doing a ton of innovating. I love Leopard. I love iPhone (x19). I love my iPods (x6). And I love the engineers at Apple and all my friends throughout the company.

But Apple has to always remember that simply making money CANNOT be its point of existence. The point of any company should be to make customers want to give it money, NOT to get money from customers. It’s a subtle distinction that is the difference between good and evil.

Does Continuity Have Room for Change?

Back to the original story…I know that the core characteristics that make up me haven’t changed a great deal in the last 20 years. However, the little bits and pieces that actually round me out have change extensively. Those pieces are the ones we skip over when we latch onto this idea of continuity.

We make a blanket statement that something or someone hasn’t changed or is exactly the same, and we miss the little tells that would indicate otherwise. And we assume, that this apparent lack of change is a “good” thing. The earlier assessment that someone or something hasn’t changed leads us to believe we know enough to make our judgment.

But aren’t we kidding ourselves? Do we really want to go to a doctor, for example, that isn’t familiar with the latest procedures and treatments? Continuity’s danger isn’t our desire for that which we know, it’s our willingness to be blind to the little things that can and do change, even as the core remains the same.

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