Saturday, May 9, 2009

Perils of Instant Gratification

After years of failed attempts by various companies to market electronic books, Amazon looks like to be the company that has finally gotten it right with their Kindle device. The first Kindle had the unique quality of not sucking to read from, which was the sticking point for all previous devices. the Kindle2 was thinner, could read .pdf files, and could download books, some newspapers, and Wikipedia articles wirelessly anywhere you could connect to the same Edge network that wireless phones do.

This latest one now has a bigger screen that makes reading the newspapers and wikipedia content easier. But now, some people are so upset that this was released so quickly after the latest iteration of the Kindle that they have written whiny articles that makes me want to search my closet to see if I can still find the World's Tiniest Violin and play them some suck-it-up music.
Here's a wonderful little quote:
An Amazon spokesperson, in response to my tirade, told me "Well now you have a choice." The key word being "now." But when I bought the product three months ago, I did not have a choice.
I counter that statement with one from Rush:

You didn't have to buy the thing in the first place, but could have waited. People that buy the latest model car in July don't complain when a newer better version comes out soon after. Just because this was the latest/greatest at the time, doesn't not put an obligation on the seller or manufacturer to never sell or create a comparable item that's better than yours, or ensure that you're item is the best for a guaranteed amount of time.

The whole thing reminds me of a similar complaint of another reputable company.

When the iPhone hit the street a few years back, all of the iFaithful were outraged by the announcement that the iPhone was going to drop in price by 33% less than 3 months after it was released. The iFaithful were shocked - shocked!! - that Steve Jobs wasn't their geeky buddy giving away his nifty toys, but was in fact an executive of a publicly traded corporation that has a desire to make a profit.

The complaint was that the price cut was too soon; they would have delayed their purchase if they knew it would drop by that much in that short of a time, Apple doesn't value it's most loyal worshipers customers, etc.

The way I see it is even if Apple had announced before it inital launch that the price would have been cut by $200 in 10 weeks, people still would have lined up outside of their stores to throw money at them. For being without iStuff is to be incomplete as a person. People were willing to pay $600 bucks for one of these things, and no functionality was added to the $400 phone, or subtracted from the phone they purchased. People who waited just got a better deal.

I personally believe that the early adopters, while vital, or at least very important to the adaptation of new technologies, think that they are getting something more than the latest and greatest gadget on the bleeding edge of science. They are buying a membership into the upper crust of their social circle. The people that have the iPhones can discuss iPhone apps, hacks, settings, troubleshooting, etc. and have all the nifty little applications that can make life in the urban jungle easier to navigate, or at least more fun.

But more importantly, they can look down upon those that don't have these things. I'm not saying that iFolk actively think that they count more as a person than someone that uses a Nokia or Sony phone, but I would bet that buried in the parts of their brain that deals with social justice, a thought pops up from time to time: "You're still using a RAZR? You poor wretch. Do you have a tin cup that I can drop some change into? Maybe you can get one of those discontinued 4GB iPhones from eBay or something."

It kinda feels good to be on the inside track, and I guess that the iFolk thought there was some sort of handshake agreement that if they paid the premium for the device, their iClique would be protected by that pricing scheme for at least six months. Then the price came down quicker than imagined, and their heads were filled with visions of the great unwashed with their Wal-Mart grooming and technolgical ineptitude buying up their defacto Badge of Honor now that they were more affordable.

The lesson is, if you don't need it right now, wait. and if you do buy it now, remember that the maker of your gadget is probably making improvements to it, and will want to get those improvements out as soon as possible in a bid to increase market share. This means your device will be obsolete rather quickly. Especially true for any technical device.

And for all of you that doubt the blind devotion of the iFolk to their company, let me share with you an Instant Messenger quote from my Brother-In-Law shortly after purchasing his iPhone on the launch date:

"Jesus has come back, except he's a phone now!"



Tiffany said...

1. As a person who bought her iPhone before the price drop, let me just remind you that I did not complain at all about that price drop. I paid $600 for the phone because I thought it was worth paying $600 for. (Still do, in fact. <3 my iPhone.) And yes, I do occasionally poke good-natured fun at the 10% of my friends who aren't using it or any other type of smartphone: "Oh, how quaint! Your phone has BUTTONS! That's so retro!" But then they usually shoot back at some kind of remark about the Cult of Apple, as they look at the other 8 people in the room all checking their iPhones. :D

2. As a person who just bought a Kindle a couple of months ago... I am actually not bothered at all by the new larger sized device. Yes, it would have been nice to have had a choice a couple months ago, but really, I would still have chosen the smaller one. I'm not interested in paying $10/month for a newspaper I can read online for free. The bigger screen does nothing at all to improve the novel/linear reading experience. The bigger screen DOES improve the experience for textbooks with lots of tables and charts and diagrams, but that's not a need I have right now. The bigger screen makes the Kindle DX considerably less portable than my Kindle 2, though. It would fit in my purse a lot less conveniently. And since portability is such a giant selling point, I really don't see the DX as a superior device so much as I see it as a device that is *superior for a particular set of reading needs,* which don't happen to match up with my own.

Tylo said...

Hey Fuzzy, great Article, haha. Entertaining, and factual.

Fuzzy said...

I realize you didn't complain about the iPhone price drop, but I remember Tom posting indignant outrage on his blog.

And the D.C. Metro Area is to iCultists as Salt Lake City is to Mormons, so I'd expect those without iPhones to be a minority, or at least a narrow majority.

And also, good to hear from you again, Tylo!

Laedelas Greenleaf said...

Haha! "Still using a RAZR..." I got mine for free a few months ago! Granted, I was the fourth owner but phones aren't artwork so I don't care. I'm tempted to call this an "article" instead of a blog post, Fuzzy, but either way, thanks for writing it. I enjoyed reading.