Sometimes you just have to write…
You know that app: “Find my iPhone”? The one Apple urges you to download so that you can track your phone if it’s lost or stolen? There’s one thing that’s only mentioned in the small print: it can’t do anything if the phone has been turned off or the battery has died.
To make a long story short, I blocked the phone, searched everywhere it could possibly be, and checked “Find my iPhone” often to see if it had been turned on.
After a week of hoping the phone would turn up, I gave up. “Find my iPhone” allows you to set your phone to completely erase itself if anyone turns it on. So that’s what I did. The problem is, once you do that, it’s over. The app can’t locate the phone anymore, even if it’s turned on.
I felt bereft. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I used that phone, along with my iPad, a lot. Off and on all day.
At about the same time that I gave up on my phone, our “extra son,” a boy who has been staying with us for the last two years, left to go back to his parents in Ireland. As he was walking out the door, he handed me his phone, a hand-me-down from me, now decorated with a very large sticker advertising something to do with BMX bikes. It was the first iPhone model — is that called an iPhone1 these days?
I must have gotten it sometime in 2007. In technology years, that’s an age ago.
I remember what a thrill it was to get this phone. Such pretty little icons, such easy access to the internet, so many apps to download and try out! It was so easy and intuitive to use too! It was completely unlike the simple phones I’d had before: if it’s possible to be in love with an inanimate object, I was in love with that phone.
Of course, that’s the same way I felt with the first Walkman: remember that? It was a big heavy clunky thing that ate batteries, but it played a cassette and you could hang it around your neck and carry it with you and it seemed like a miracle at the time.
And my first computer, which I bought in 1987: a Mac 512 enhanced. It didn’t even have a hard drive, but it was the fanciest thing I’d ever seen.
Someone should invent a new word, something that means “the thrill of first contact with groundbreaking new technology.” Any suggestions?
So looking at this old phone again, I remembered that feeling, but when I tried to sync it with my computer, the thrill certainly wasn’t there anymore. It can’t download any of the apps I’ve been using lately, because I can’t upgrade its operating system past 4.2. The apps almost all demand at least 4.3. It works incredibly slowly too – and notice that “incredibly slowly” means only a second or two gap between touching a button and something happening. We are so spoiled these days!
A message to anyone from Apple who might happen to read this: you are doing your customers a disservice by building good, solid phones that last for years, but then forcing people to buy new ones because the phones can’t use the apps anymore. As long as a phone lasts, it should be able to upgrade. I know you do it on purpose so that people will go buy a new one, but here’s the risk you take: they’ll buy a different brand because they’re annoyed with you! And don’t think that the solution is to build less durable phones. That will irritate people too, and then they’re even more likely to switch!
I lasted a couple of weeks with this old phone, increasingly frustrated whenever I wanted to do anything other than call someone or text. I could do that just as well with my older non-“smart” phones.
So, eventually, I looked into buying a new phone. I considered another iPhone5, but wanted to look around a bit more.
Being thoroughly spoiled (see Decadent and Self-indulgent and More Self-indulgence, both of which I wrote back in 2008), I decided I wanted a high-end phone. I would just get frustrated otherwise with what it couldn’t do. I justified this by deciding that I’ll keep the phone past when the subscription runs out in a bit more than a year. I’ll go to a sim-only subscription and save some of the money I spent on the phone.
So I shopped. And it became clear very quickly from the reviews I read online that other phones are surpassing the iPhone these days. The ones most mentioned were the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. And both of those were at least 100 euros cheaper.
So an HTC it was. And when it arrived yesterday, I felt that familiar thrill, and spent hours, just like I did with that first generation iPhone, exploring its possibilities.
Apple, you’ve lost me. I still enjoy my iPad immensely, but I suspect that when it reaches its planned obsolescence limit – it’s an iPad 1, after all – I’ll move to another brand. You’ve made a mistake here, and I suspect with lots of other people too. We’re spoiled, and we expect the best. You’re not giving it to us anymore.