Of bending iPhones and the ilk

You don’t have to be part of the media to realise that you are an unwitting member of the media circus. The next best thing is just around the corner and you have your eyes glued to every screen your disposal. And all of this is for another couple of screen-based devices that seemingly hold the power to change mankind’s destiny and bring about world peace. No, they cannot but with all the hype you would have thought that the two variants of the iPhone 6 should do a lot more than they do.

But that isn’t all. The announcement happened and we all saw that the iPhone (in plural) had now grown bigger, had new software and … well and actually did nothing new over a whole host of phones that have launched over the past couple of years. So are we missing something here? The world’s best brand has brought out a couple of me-too products that don’t do anything to change the game. That’s so unlike them!


As if to make up for the lack of punch the new Apple Watch came out as well – the only item that seems to take a genre and move it ahead in true Apple style. But it is months away from a formal launch and may change even now.

As if to add to the mire, the phones that were launched were received with quite a bit of bad press. You cannot have phones bending the way these did – and certainly not when they are iPhones! It may have been a mixture of production teething issues and bad luck, but Apple could have done without this. 

Remember, Apple is now the world’s richest company by market capitalisation, most recalled brand and earn most of their revenue from the iPhone. If you looked at it in automotive terms it would be as if Aston Martin was the largest selling brand with just two models (DB9 and Vantage anyone?) priced at a premium over everyone else and with record profits for the company. Oh yes, and the cars are made at vendor’s factories in China by overworked labour and we never question the quality. Somehow it doesn’t translate as well to automotive terms.

And it never will, because we have a different scale of measurement. Imagine buying your car and hearing about doors falling off on the model elsewhere in the world. Or engines leaking; Or electrical circuits failing, as they do. Yes, we accept that a car as delivered to a customer is on a best effort basis. Six sigma tells us that most of the cars will not have an issue – it can never guarantee that 100%. So what’s the issue when an iPhone bends? Or your software hits a glitch. One over the air update later and your phone’s as good as new. In a faulty car, you will have to take it to the dealer and get it attended to and you feel as if the newness has gone away, even if you’ve already done a few thousand celebratory kilometres already in it.

It is that difference in the way we measure our purchases that allows us to forgive one manufacturer and harangue another. Of course when endemic issues crop up then manufacturers all seem to have a common recourse – the recall!

And this never-ending story will go on. A new gadget will launch every month, a new car at almost the same frequency. We’re never going to be able to upgrade our cars at the same pace as our phones so we all know which will interest us more. 

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