Apple Is Forgetting the Common Man with Its New Products
Prices are outrageous and parental controls are nearly nonexistent on these latest and 'greatest' gadgets
If you watched the news yesterday at all, you learned about the release of new Apple gadgets in coverage that managed to eclipse the post-Irma recovery efforts and political chaos in North Korea.
Stop the presses: Apple introduced some new iPhones!
Ten years after the company revolutionized the cellphone industry, it continued to blur the line between phone and computer with the release of three new devices. The newly announced iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are incremental updates from the iPhone 7, but it was the announcement of the iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone 10,” to be hip) that got the most buzz yesterday. Its edge-to-edge OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen and complete lack of buttons — coupled with facial recognition for unlocking the phone — make the iPhone X a worthy contender for the best and most advanced smartphone on the market today.
The base price of an iPhone X is $999 — and if you want one with a bit more memory, the price jumps up to a cool $1,149. For a phone. The iPhone 8 units are more reasonably priced, but the base model is still going to set you back $699.
Apple's main smartphone rival, Samsung, isn't sitting still either, and the recently released Samsung Galaxy S8 has a starting price of $749. The Essential phone is $699; the Google Pixel phone starts at $649.
It's therefore somewhat ironic that gadget site TechCrunch described the iPhone 8 as "the iPhone for the rest of us." What it meant to say was that it's for the rest of us who can afford such an expensive luxury.
Got your eye on that iPhone X, though? That price tag is comparable to a quite decent Windows laptop.
So what about "the rest of us"? What about people who can't afford tech devices that cost so incredibly much?
Unfortunately, the answer is simple: People who aren't rich and don't want to go into debt over a phone aren't invited to participate. Don't have the spare cash to cover one of those financing plans so generously offered by cellular carriers? Then you are stuck with a phone that's years old — and eventually won't work at all, as iOS devices and Androids continue to evolve.
Yes, technology marches forward, and the cost of having the latest and greatest has always been high, but just once it'd be nice to see a company like Apple or Samsung, Dell, or Google focus on lowering the price of their products, rather than competing with each other to see just how much people will pay for a phone.
Imagine being able to get a new Apple iPhone, even with a modest configuration and small screen, for $99 or $5 a month.
Even if you don't look at price, there are still cultural values attached to our devices and how they work. The people who design consumer electronics just assume everyone lives like them, travels like them, works like them, and parents like them.
Or have you never wondered why there aren't user accounts on an iPad, even though parents constantly loan them to their children for games or movies? In Silicon Valley, they just buy more devices — one for Sally, one for Joey, and one for Grandma. In all these announcements, Samsung, Apple, Google, and others never talk about how their tech supports help parents trying to keep their children safe online.
Truth be told, the sad state of parental controls in this sort of modern tech is atrocious, regardless of what platform you're using.
The new iPhones are definitely cool — and smartwatches with built-in cellular connectivity are opening up entirely new worlds — but only for the people who can afford all of these wild gadgets. We'd just like to see a bit more attention paid to the rest of the population.
Dave Taylor, based in Boulder, Colorado, has been writing about consumer electronics, technology and pop culture for many years and runs the popular site AskDaveTaylor.com.