Consumers Buy into Wasteful Apple Marketing Strategy

By Abby Wargo
Student Life Editor

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Apple and similar companies continue to pump out new products, regardless of the need or quality of the updated features.

Every September, it seems the whole of Western society waits with bated breath for the inevitable — a new iPhone model. Most recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the newest models: iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X.

iPhones, produced by Apple since 2007, dominate the mobile market. Since then, the iPhone has been the trailblazer for innovation in cellular communications — the App Store, Siri, Touch ID, FaceTime, and Apple Pay. Apple is already setting “expectations of unrivaled greatness,” per the Harvard Business Review. As of December 2016, iPhones in use around the world totaled 715 million, according to BMO Capital Markets Analyst Tim Long.

However, all these new innovations in cellular technology come with a price. Most service providers allow customers to upgrade their phone every two years, and with new features rolling out with each new release, that window stays reasonable for most people. What about those who don’t need or care about the bells and whistles? A smartphone is a smartphone as long as it performs its primary functions — internet access, texting, and calling — so why is there a need to replace a phone every two years?

Designing technology with the intent for it to last for only a brief period of time, forcing cusotmers to buy a newer model, is a tactic many are calling planned obsolescence.

As long as planned obsolescence is around, then that unnecessary replacement becomes a necessity. Phones over a year or two old will malfunction like clockwork in an attempt to get the consumer to purchase a newer model. Devices like TVs can last years and years longer. But with the competitive market for cellular devices, companies need a way to get their newer products into the hands of consumers at any cost.

It seems to be almost a last-ditch attempt as a marketing scheme. If there is no need to replace a phone for a newer, innovated model, create that need. Corner the customer and tie their hands, but somehow convince them that it correlates to freedom of choice. Thus, the capitalist market progresses.

New innovations are not so bad, especially with a healthy competition between Google Android and Apple iPhone, if it fuels progress. The schism between brands divides right down to individual users, with intense dislikes about the other’s features and general interface.

Progress for the sake of progress is not unlike incoherent ramblings in an essay with a specific word count requirement — it is unnecessary and it would behoove everyone to get to the point.

Often, Apple’s improvements have nothing to do with the popular desires of consumers and are mostly superfluous changes. Many people see adding a group FaceTime option and the return of the headphone jack as needed, but Apple would rather play around with the layout of the interface and make the back surface of the phone glass — glass which shatters at the first interaction with the floor, according to most iPhone users.

Regardless of changes, loyal Apple users will continue to re-purchase Apple products and upgrade as needed. I admit that I am a hypocrite; this article was written on my MacBook, and I have been a proud iPhone user for five or six years now.

That’s the problem: while people can be, and are, deeply dissatisfied with the direction the company is taking with their products, the allure of the new and of the familiar is all too real. The problem is forgotten as soon as the customer catches a glimpse of that crisp, bitten apple on the back of their shiny new device.

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