If you haven’t heard, people are getting growly about Apple’s decision to omit the headphone jack from the iPhone 7. Instead, they’ll supply customers with EarPods that connect through the Lightning port, along with an adapter to convert that port into a jack for those who can’t be parted from other earbuds. The developer is also rolling out AirPods — wireless earbuds retailing for US$159.
Many have called out this latest iPhone decision as an example of Apple’s price-gouging, skating by on their reputation, and relying on their fan base to keep buying into and enabling Apple’s production of made-for-disposal electronics. However, the argument isn’t as black-and-white as some people make it out to be.
Of course, $159 for earbuds — wireless or not — is ridiculous. But let’s be honest: no one needs to buy them. You can use the adapter to continue using your own earbuds, whether they’re $100 or $10. With Apple touting the 7 as having the best battery life of any iPhone (two hours more than the 6s), you should be able to get by without the battery port.
The truth is that Apple is a business, and charging customers for brand-new, cutting-edge products is their job. Technology evolves and improves, pushing out its lacklustre predecessors, and it’s still heading toward wireless, compact devices and accessories — that’s why tape decks are no longer standard issue in cars.
People are averse to change, and that’s all technological improvements are. Yet despite natural human fastidiousness and the Internet community’s outrage, I doubt people will stop consuming these particular changes anytime soon.
Apple products are a status symbol, and people will buy them for as long as they give the impression of being well-off, happy, and trendy. When someone doesn’t have one of the most easily recognized smartphone brands (Apple, Samsung, etc.), we question them on why they don’t have a phone, or why they have the specific kind that they do.
A few years ago, when smartphones had only been marketed for a year or two, I had this great Nokia brick. It was an inch thick and four inches long. I thought it was the coolest thing because I could flip up the number pad to access a full keyboard. I thought I was hot shit.
Then everyone around me started getting iPhones with big screens and easy-to-use Internet capabilities, and less than a year later, I joined the bandwagon. It wasn’t because I didn’t love my phone, but because I’d grown tired of people asking me repeatedly why I had such an antique.
This interrogation can make a person feel crappy about their financial situation. That societal pressure to conform to the same belief system as everyone else — that smartphones equal financial stability and are therefore essential possessions — is intense and difficult to overcome.
Apple has come to rely on its brand reputation to keep them a top-seller. Their accessories, like the wireless headphones, are not different from other available items; for instance, wireless earbuds have been around for a while at significantly lower prices. They take advantage of the perceived status that accompanies their products, knowing that their customers will remain loyal — regardless of cost — so long as that result, that status, is attained.
Feel outraged about Apple’s price-gouging, by all means. But nothing’s going to change, unless we open our minds to other brands instead of criticizing their users.