According to my Twitter feed, a lot of people are lining up today to be among the first consumers to play with the fifth incarnation of the iPhone. For all my love of consumer culture, this is a behavior I just don’t get. First a little background:
I’ve waited in line. I have fond memories of waking up at Unholy Hour O’Clock to go to the nearest Ticketmaster to get concert tickets for my favorite bands. One of the last times I did this was a Paul McCartney tour over 10 years ago. Now, I just wait in a virtual line at my computer, comfy in my chair and PJs, to get tickets. But I do remember the excitement and the communitas of standing in line. I also have fond memories of waiting in line for midnight movie premiers and book releases. I’ve sense stopped doing the midnight showings, just because I’m not that person who can stay out until 3am on a Thursday then crawl into work on Friday morning and be functional. But there, again, is a particular excitement and communitas that happens in those midnight hours. Same with the book releases. By the end of the Harry Potter series, bookstores wisened up to the idea of throwing an actual party, making the wait that much more fun. I think my most favorite waiting in line experience was to get a wristband to see a presentation/book signing by Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) at Austin’s annual book festival. The book was the 12th book of the Series of Unfortunate Events, and the festival happened to be on my birthday. My inner book nerd was very excited to spend my birthday thusly. And I was able to fanagle anniversary greetings from Handler, making it an afternoon to remember. All other positive instances of waiting in line that I can remember involve Disney somehow.
So, yes, I understand waiting in line.
I should also add that I’m an ex-Mac user. Yes, such a person does exist! I left Mac because I had (and still have) moral? ethical? issues about their pricing structure. I can think of 100000000000000000 better, more satisfying ways to part with an Unholy Amount of Money than to buy the latest OS upgrade, iPod, or laptop computer.
But, as today proves, I’m apparently in a minority.
I do love my Android phone, and I do sometimes catch myself growing skin attachment to my phone as I play around on my various apps. Sometimes, playing around on those apps seems more important than whatever else I should be doing (a behavior I’m working very hard to break for the sake of being the type of role model my kid deserves). I get the attachment we have to our toys.
But there’s something Faustian about the unholy alliance consumers are making with their Mac products. I have very dear friends who are Mac users, and we have a mutual understanding not to engage in the Mac/PC debate. When consuming PC products, because there are so many options out there, it doesn’t seem like an unholy alliance. But with Mac, you’re not only consuming a brand, you’re committing yourself to a particular product line because of Mac’s proprietary practices. Some of these practices have leaked into the smart phone app world because “it’s easier to program an app for an iPhone than it is for a Droid.” What bunk.
I saw this commercial on Hulu yesterday. Though I’m not an SIII user, I think it well explains that perplexed look I give Mac users who want the latest upgrade:
And an image from George Takei’s Facebook: