iDoubt: Confessions of an iPhone Skeptic

All the hoopla over the new iPhone 5 has me a bit perplexed. I totally get that the iPhone as a stand-alone product now produces more revenue than all of Microsoft. I get that people love new gadgets, and I get that this particular model is more sleek, shiny, and sophisticated than earlier models.

But really, people…it’s just another mobile; it’s not a miracle. Yes, the profits it generates will be miraculous indeed for Apple’s bottom line, but for the likes of average folk who fork over gigantic wads of dough to be one of the many, the proud, the cash-strapped; what, in the end, is it really all about than another glitzy status symbol that will be tomorrow’s trash once a new new model is released in another year or so?

Don’t get me wrong; I love Apple products. I really do. I just take issue with the worldwide hysteria over yet another disposable product that has failings just like any other mobile phone.

For example:

  • High price: Even if you buy your new iPhone from a lower-cost, prepaid,  no-contract carrier like Cricket; it’s still more expensive than any other phone out there.
  • Not immune to malware: Although Apple employees may try to convince you otherwise; you are absolutely not immune from viruses, Trojans, and other stealthy bugs that can steal information, track your location, and/or secretly send expensive overseas text messages.
  • Privacy stealing apps: Even if your phone hasn’t been hacked and infected; the information you hand over by signing up for mobile apps, as well as the data generated by those apps is not private. If the FBIor another government agency wants to know where you’ve been, and what you’ve been doing; they don’t even always need a warrant to get that information from your mobile carrier, or from an app provider such as Google.  A Congressman has just introduced a new bill that requires app makers to include more privacy protection; but there is no guarantee that bill will ever actually pass. In addition; even if it does; it’s not going to change the way the law works with regard to police agencies and the information they can obtain from your mobile phone records.
  • Mobile Spectrum Crunch: You probably never think about it; but there is a finite amount of bandwidth available out there for all of your video downloading, music-streaming, text messaging, and plain old yack-yacking on the phone. In order to alleviate what’s known as the mobile spectrum crunch, the FCC has agreed to hold a voluntary spectrum auction sometime in the next few years that would allow TV Broadcasters to sell off some of the bandwidth they’re not using to mobile carriers that are scrambling to find ways to accommodate ever-increasing mobile demand. In the meantime, AT&T is in the process of making a deal with a consortium of cable companies to buy a big chunk of their spectrum. While that may not seem like a big deal to you now; remember this. Anything that is in limited supply will eventually cost you more.

I offer these examples simply as ways to help keep the iPhone hysteria in perspective. If you can afford one, and you love the way it works; by all means–buy one and enjoy it. But if you don’t have one, and you find yourself feeling like you’re missing out on the greatest thing ever; honestly, just dial it back a notch.

One thing that is sure in our tech-obsessed, consumer-driven culture and economy, is that there will always be something newer, shinier, more expensive, and more crave-worthy for sale tomorrow.

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