Gadget Lust and Envy: The Tradition Continues
You have to hand it to American consumers. They aren’t going to let a little thing like a severe economic recession get between them and their lust for personal gadgets. Case in point: cell phones.
If you follow technology talk as I try to do, you know that some consumers are reveling in the release of the Palm Pre smart phone. Folks were lining up this weekend to get the latest in cell phone wizardry. Some call it the iPhone killer. Indeed, one Pre buyer smashed his old iPhone with a hammer in celebration.
Even one of my fellow personal finance bloggers got caught up in the hype. He was thrilled to snag one of the Pres at his local Sprint store. Unfortunately, when the adrenaline rush subsided, he learned that to use his new toy, his rate plan would go up. That’s the price of tech progress.
The Pre sales would probably have been greater, but for all of the anticipation over the next generation iPhone which is expected to be released any day. I have a couple of younger relatives – still in school mind you – who couldn’t wait and bought new iPhones last month.
Give the cell phone companies props for their ability to exploit consumer lust for the latest features in their tech toys. LG is even more direct in its appeal to gadget envy with its recently introduced and aptly named “enV” phone models.
Apple follows a common theme among gadget sellers who really know how to extract money from eager consumers. It releases features in waves rather than all at once.
There will be little or nothing in the upcoming iPhone model that could not have been designed into earlier models. But by dribbling the features out in a succession of new “models”, Apple captures the minds and money of the early adopters. These are the buyers who must have it and have it now, “it” being the coolest tech stuff. There is real money to be made from those folks.
And let’s not forget that the purchase of the latest cell phone technology often triggers an increase in monthly plan charges, as it did with my blogging colleague.
I suppose we should look at the bright side. Product lust and envy may be downsizing itself from McMansions and motor vehicles to cell phones. That reduces its impact on the family budget. Let’s hope we can keep it there.
As a final note, Mr. ToughMoneyLove must confess to lusting after electronic gadgets himself. But I am getting better at not acting on that lust. My Windows Mobile phone – which was full-featured when I bought it – is now 34 months old and still going strong. When is this thing going to die so I can justify a purchase of that nextgen iPhone?
Do you have gadget envy? Do you submit to it?