How consumer tech appears to be changing.

I spent the last few hours looking at reviews and discussions about Apple. See, my 2011 Mac Book Pro has been struggling when it come to video editing, especially any thing heavy. But I have been blessed with this device lasting as long as it has. And because of it I have been singing the praises of Apple, as of late (at least in favor of their computers). But were those praises worthy?

Though I have been keeping up with tech, it has mainly been on the phone front. As far as computers, I really have not been keeping as close attention. I was aware of the issues with the 2017 Mac Book Pro touch bar, but other than that I clearly have not been paying attention.

Currently in the market for a replacement Mac Book Pro, I do the diligence of a consumer and research. After watching a couple of YouTube reviews, I contemplate switching from a Mac Book Pro to an iMac, as the iMac seems to handle video editing better. But then I stumble upon the issue that Linus with Linus Tech Tips had, and that led me down a rabbit hole. And then I saw more videos about the issues that Apple consumers were dealing with, and I found my mind blown.

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This search for a replacement to my Mac Book Pro reminded me of a complaint I made about the smart phone industry. Like smart phones, Apple (appears) has treated their computers as throw away items. Smart phones, which are now pushing to the price level of high end computers, are used on average for 18 months. And unless you have a Pixel or an iPhone, the expectation for software updates are at best a year. This mean that consumers who spend $1000 for a product may no longer be getting the longevity (they thought) they paid for.

Talking to my parents and grandparents about the consumer devices of their day, devices for $300-$400 bucks were expected to last about a life time. Now we are met with high end devices that get supported for about 6-12 months, with the mindset being “this new model” fixes the problems with the old.

For consumers not wanting to keep up with “the Jone’s”, shouldn’t they be able to expect the device they dropped $700+ on to be supported for the life of that device?

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On the smartphone in, Google constantly brag about their software being optimized to run on low end hardware. They even have an operating system and phone (Android One) for emerging markets. So this tell me that phones could potentially be supported up to 4-5 years. But we know why they do it. Manufacturers rely on those quarterly profits to keep shareholders happy. A company could be congratulated for becoming a trillion dollar company, and 4 months later have investors dumping shares and resulting in over 450 billion dollars worth of profit loss. So manufacturers are constantly trying to find ways to boost sales.

There are a lot of working class consumers out there that need to use their money for other things. Braces, sports camp and equipment, car repairs, these are some of the other expenses tugging at folks wallets. And the moment that a consumer walks into a store, after saving (or freeing) up money for a new phone, they should be able to expect that device to truly last. Both hardware and software should be geared toward the working class consumer. Unfortunately that is not the case. Manufacturers build devices and software around getting you (the consumer) back in the store 12-24 months from now. And the sooner the better.

Thankfully we as consumers have a voice as well. We can express that we want to see devices last, but we can also back that with our wallets. By rewarding manufacturers that truly have customer service in mind with more business, and refusing to purchase items that are not built to last, we can encourage the market to provide more devices geared toward the working consumer.

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The reality is that we have “shiny new” syndrome. The right commercial, the right hype build up, and the promise of something not found in previous models, pushes consumers to the register. So that the consumer wanting longevity is the minority. And if only a minority of consumers are complaining, it is easier for the manufacturer to ignore the plea of the few.

But the bright side is that we may be seeing the pendulum swing back the other way. Consumers may have had enough of the thousand dollar phones, and are willing to hold on to their phones longer. Hopefully this trend opens up to devices and support that are truly built to last.

 

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