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iPhone 6 anger driven by smartphone ‘arms race’

Tuesday, September 30th 2014 by Ellen Branagh

Consumers' "arm's length relationship" with technology could be to blame for the negative reaction to the bending of the new iPhone 6.

The launch of Apple's latest smartphone was followed rapidly by claims by some users that the device could be bent out of shape in someone’s pocket.

But as “bendgate” became the latest controversy surrounding a new Apple release, chartered psychologist Alan Redman (pictured) has pointed the finger at users’ unrealistic expectations of new technology.

Mr Redman, from business psychologist consultancy Criterion Partnership, said the regular criticism of new Apple products could be down to several factors, including people’s “arm’s-length” relationship with technology.

Mr Redman told Cable.co.uk: “There does seem to be an Apple backlash which Apple gets and no-one else does.

“There’s a huge in-group/out-group thing; either you love them or you hate them.

“I think because Apple are so visible and prominent and have this cultish following, people are kind of looking to find fault.

He said: “There’s an arms race in technology, and certainly with mobile phones in general, which raises people’s expectations of what’s possible.

“We are a society that has a bit of an arm’s-length relationship with technology. Most of us don’t understand how amazing the technology that underlines these products is.

“For a lot of people born after 1980 they have been born into a world where stuff just works and you don’t really have to ask why.

“Before that you were more aware of limitations, because stuff was cruder.

“From a more psychological level there’s something about human beings which craves the new and the novel and the latest thing, which is very much hard-wired into us.

“We know from hundreds of years of marketing that if something is new or different or better, human beings want it.

“Certainly this arms race in the smartphone market feeds into this.”

Mr Redman put some of the hype down to “neophilia” – a love of the new.

“It’s there for evolutionary reasons, we are hunter-gatherers, as human beings to survive, adapt, evolve, we needed to be curious, to seek out new stuff, to explore, to go further.

“It makes us adaptable, certainly to rapid change. We, I guess, as a species are going to grow, are going to learn to create, are going to invent, so that’s all good.

“But in modern life it has its downside as well and that dark side of neophilia is an extreme need for change, for newness, the latest stuff, we can become bored much more quickly, we can have feelings of dissatisfaction much more quickly.

“We live surrounded by technology which would have been regarded as magic even 50 years ago. We forget there are limits to anything whether it is physical limits or technological limits.”

Mobile analyst John Delaney agreed, saying people were reluctant to compromise on anything when they bought a new product.

Mr Delaney, from research firm IDC, told us: “I think people certainly are looking not to compromise on anything – to some extent understandably so because these are expensive bits of kit.

“When they are paying out that kind of money they don’t want it to compromise in any of the basic areas.

“In our view probably the number one concern is battery life, they want these things to do everything – to have high definition displays, high definition sound, and they want the battery to last a month.

“So in that way people are expecting the impossible.”

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