Sunday, September 7, 2008

Consumption and technology

My next book, whose publishing (in French at first) is planned for winter of 2009, will focus on consumption and technology; here’s a glimpse of its content.

In our hyperconsumption society, technological development is essentially dictated by commercial considerations, the first of which being the necessity for manufacturers to differentiate their products from their competitors’.

The iPhone, launched in Canada in July 2008, is a fitting example of this assertion. Far be it from me to denigrate this gadget which obviously appeals to a very specific market segment; otherwise, how can one explain the endless launch day queues in front of stores for the privilege of being among the first to own this marvel? Its design undoubtedly meets aesthetic expects and its many functions, too numerous in fact for the average user, allow its users to justify their purchase from a utilitarian standpoint (functional expects).

The iPhone’s appeal lies elsewhere. It has to do with the image, the myth I should say, Apple built around its latest creation, as it did for other products, the iPod for instance; as the latter, the iPhone is a cult object, a status symbol (symbolic expects), yet even, for some people, a possession which allows them to enhance a somewhat weak self-esteem (aspirational expects).

Despite the fact that competing products, such as the Touch Diamond (HTC) and the Instinct (Samsung), offer very similar designs, features and functionalities, the iPhone’s exclusive image allows Apple to sell it at a price slightly higher than competing products’, because the unconditional, the true aficionados, are less sensitive to price, as long as said price remains within a range whose boundaries Apple has undoubtedly pinpointed (financial expects). One can therefore say that technological development has shifted to a commercial exchange paradigm.

No comments: