My mother called me in a panic when the iOS 6/iPhone 5 news hit
The New York Times
' pages (literally print pages in her subscription's case):
"Yeah, if you have some time, call me back. I don't know what to do about this iOS 6. Should I download it? I hear the Maps is terrible. How do I download anyway? Do I need to plug it into my computer? My computer doesn't have iTunes. Do I need that? Do I need to plug the phone into the socket while downloading? I think you told me that once. Oy vey! Why do they need to change things. I was just getting used to this!"
In the world of technology, Apple "rushing out" Maps isn't the only signal of the prominence of speed. Faster, newer, better ... that is, faster and newer is always associated with better. For baby boomers such as my mom, though, staying current is the goal, as opposed to conceiving of current as already old.
My mother may be an extreme example. After all, I've always thought given her general level of anxiety she should have been a tax partner or air traffic controller -- working in some "closed" system in which, with enough study and practice, all the facts are known and there is never any introduction of the random or unexpected.
That's definitely not technology, and it never will be. Technology is defined by Moore's Law (named after
co-founder Gordon Moore) that in the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. You can say more generally that this exponential increase allows for the whole faster, newer, better philosophy: if you got it, flaunt it. Then keep flaunting it.
There's a whole wide world of older Americans out there, though, and they are still learning the iPhone. It may be a one-time demographic sales opportunity that is never to be repeated in terms of the psychology underlying it, but for now, Apple's got a big chunk of potential iPhone and iPad buyers with lots of disposable income who may not want to hear, "Hey, that gadget you just bought ... time to change. It's outdated."
You may think I'm joking. I am. And I'm not. I hear my mom say with a hint of panic in a voicemail message, "Oy gut. Something went wrong. iOS 6 just stopped downloading. I've been on the phone with Apple for seven hours." And I know all I need to know about the "hidden" problem that Tim Cook still needs to apologize for. Change for the sake of change (or for the sake of taking more of
market) isn't change everyone jumps up and down to rejoice over.
Forget Maps. It's bigger than that. Apple is well past the days of marketing chiefly to those who have drunk the Kool-Aid of change being intrinsic in defining technological value and assigning their own social status. Apple shouldn't stop what it is doing -- dinosaurs be damned, and after all, the dinosaurs are being seduced into thinking the iPhone is intrinsic to their existence too -- but my mother is still waiting for a text that bears the words, "Sorry. :( We'll do better. :). We know change is never easy." And the inscription from Tim Cook's handset, "Sent from Cupertino."
My mom does know how to check her messages.
-- Written by Eric Rosenbaum from New York.
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