Perception Is Reality

Technology and Convenience

Posted on: December 15, 2007

Thomas King was the guest speaker for the Ioan Davies Memorial Lecture in 2007 at York University. One of his key points were that there are no rules governing the bottled water industry and the “mineral” water might as well be no different than tap water. They underlying point, which King made apparent was that what we were paying for when buying mineral water was not the water or the health benefits, or a thirst quencher, rather, when we buy bottled water, we in effect are paying for convenience. That’s what we pay for in most cases above and beyond the product itself.

Let me tie this to the more recent, yet booming phenomena of cell phones. Now you’ve heard and probably thought about this a million times, but at one time, cellphones were gigantic, cancerous versions of their contemporary counterparts and were used only for making phone calls. As you can imagine, this was inconvenient relative to today, but was an important tool ‘back then.’ Now though, as we are more on the move and carry around with us a cellphone, an iPod, and sometimes a digital camera to keep up with our daily demand for recreation. If you think of it, this is still inconvenient: my pockets are full, and if I’m a man, Its hard to carry the camera (unless I put it in a purse, making both a statement about fashion and sexual orientation). What do I need? Technological Convergence. Perhaps the best thing that ever happened to me. Cellphones now come with all of the above accessories mentioned, built in, with great quality.

My favorite though is the iPhone – theoretically. I haven’t used it much so I can’t say how convenient it is, but the quality of the best music player I’ve used, a decent camera for documentation, a WiFi connection, and a mini video player is all I ever wanted in one – with good quality. I no longer need to carry two things in my pockets and a laptop in my backpack I have to take out everytime: Infact, I don’t need to carry a backpack: I can make notes on my iPhone.

So essentially, if I’m buying an iPhone, what am I paying for? You bet! I’m paying for convenience. Given, the iPhone market is really really high right now, most unlocked phones reaching up to atleast USD 550. But I’ll let you know now, the cost is higher because third-party individuals can make an extra motherload of profit, perhaps 50-75% mark up. And us buying it says that the iPhone is perhaps revolutionary. Perhaps it says something more, a little something about us: We have evolved from a life desirous of technological tools, to a life dependent on them. Not to say that we are all pawns of technological determinism, no. There are other things that come into play, such as the supervening social necessity and the law of supression of radical potential (yes, I wanted to show off). But that’s a story for another day.

Think about it though, next time you buy any product. How much of it has to do with the product itself and how much of it has to do with convenience? Maybe then if we find the price tag a little too high, we’ll realize more, a product’s value for ourself.


2 Responses to "Technology and Convenience"

I always have a problem with people complaining about the price of the iPhone. I picked mine up for under $400, which, if you compare it to most products in its market area — the smartphone market, and not the cell phone market — is ridiculously cheap. As in, almost criminally cheap.

All that said, I like this post: now you really really really have to get rid of those Snap Previews or I’m going gouge out my eyes.

lol vasta. will do ūüėõ

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About the Author…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in an Adventist hospital, I grew up in a city where on one side I experienced poverty and oppression, while on the other I had the good fortune of Tabish Bhimani being a member of an upper middle-class business family...more...

Twitter Updates

%d bloggers like this: