Technology and how the technology is used are things that are sometimes at odds with the other. Like something built for one purpose, but utilized for another, or something that can be used to varying degrees according to whatever respective party’s vested interests. Take the obvious example: nuclear products. One one hand, you have treatments for cancer and an energy source with staggering potential. On the other hand, you have nuclear weapons or irreparable ecological damage due to reactor failures (whether due to human error, natural disasters, or whatever). Someone can refine nuclear products for powering thousands upon thousands of homes, or tweaking the recipe to make weapons-grade materials. All in the eye of the beholder, as it were. Or to a much lesser degree, say, the internet. You have a nearly infinite source of just about every scrap of knowledge ever logged by the human race, versus the dangers of hacking, internet addiction, stalking, etc. Pros and cons.
However, there are certain things that you can view with some degree of objectivity. A computer mouse is ostensibly meant to be used by a hand or some manner of appendage for the purpose of manipulating a cursor on the screen, easing the control and navigation of the images and information presented on a computer screen. Usually used on a desk, or maybe thigh if in dire straights, but its use and purpose is fairly clean-cut, blah blah blah. They’ve been tweaked and upgraded over time, going from a rubberized ball and contact points in the mouse to determine speed and direction of the pointer, to modern lasers. Connections went from old plugs, to USB, then to wireless mice, to Bluetooth wireless mice for greater degrees of flexibility and portability in this age of electronic transience. Even so, a mouse is still a mouse, meant to be used on a (mostly) flat surface, controlled by some appendage for the purpose of making a little arrow or hand scurry across a screen.
Perhaps you’re wondering where I’m going with all this. Please consider the following: in a recent post on BBC, today for me, last week for you, there was a report on the new iPhone 6’s allegedly bending in people’s pockets. It’s not the first time it’s happened with mobiles, nor I imagine it’ll be the last. All fine and good, except for one part that made me stop and cock my head to the side in sheer, doggish confusion. The “principal technology analyst at the advisory service Davies Murphy Group,” a man by the name of Chris Green, had a rather interesting point to make:
“This is not an issue that Apple – or other phone companies – need to be compelled to respond to or fix. If anything this is a reflection of how people have started to use devices beyond what they were designed for,” he said.
“Even the most recent smartphones are not designed to be put in pockets where they are going to be under the most chassis strain. And this just illustrates the fact that the public’s desire for manufacturers to strive for ever thinner and lighter devices means that we are getting ever more fragile devices.
“Just casually sticking a £700 smartphone in your pocket is an increasingly reckless thing to do.”
Now this, to me, is astounding. Mind-boggling. Gaping jaw, blank stare, speechless kind of astounding. Astoundingly, staggeringly stupid, if I were to be so uncouth. “This is not an issue that Apple – or other phone companies – need to be compelled to respond to or fix.” Unless I’m reading this wrong, he’s defending the notion that mobiles aren’t, or shouldn’t be, designed FOR POCKETS, and people shouldn’t expect to use mobiles… IN THEIR POCKETS. Does this strike anyone else as being completely, irredeemably mad?
“Excuse me sir, I beg your pardon, but why are you upset that the tires on your car blew out? You didn’t imagine to drive on them, did you?”
In what bizarro world do we now live that mobiles, by definition being mobile, are now not expected to be practically carried on the go? I live in Europe, where it’s not uncommon in the slightest for men to be seen with little satchels, but in the massive North American market, or amongst those who simply don’t use them, what’s the message here? This really also extends a bit into women’s fashion problems, where functional pockets are an impossibility, but that’s a whole separate discussion in unto itself. My point is the same: having to rely on an external source for carrying something that is be definition mobile is… madness.
There’s some kind of cold logic to Mr. Green’s statement, nor do I assume he’s alone in his conclusions, but it’s like some sick dystopian joke, some Vonnegutian or Gilliam-y satire where technology has progressed in a deprecating circle. What began as stationary, became only barely feasible to carry (the big grey bricks of yesteryear), became almost comically small in the 2000’s, and mobiles have now swollen to sizes where you have analysts legitimately claiming phones are no longer suitable for your pockets, and we shouldn’t see them as such.
There’s some truth to his statement, where people want lighter phones with greater specs, but there has to be some give. There has to be some level of accountability where companies shouldn’t release something in the guise of mobility, then shrug their shoulders in bafflement when users complain that it isn’t actually mobile-friendly. It’s some kind of sick market that shouldn’t exist. Again, like selling tires that blow out if you use them, or selling food that’s not actually edible (“Well, people spend half their meal taking pictures of their food, so we made half the food picture-perfect, they shouldn’t complain when they can’t actually eat it; just because it’s food doesn’t mean it’s expected to be edible”).
If companies make a product that fails on a basic level for a critical facet of its use, then they should change the product to match that regular, intended use. Or if it’s not too much to ask, being honest on its limitations instead of the same “best model ever” nonsense spewed forth every six months. It’s this sort of hyper-saturation of the mobile market, where they now come in yearly or bi-yearly iterations. Disposable treasures, as they seem. Much has already been said of the major developers for the gimmicks and superficial tweaks from one model to the next, but why has the market developed to such a point where a straight-up design flaw is seen as a kind of “feature” or inevitable result? “It’s lighter and thinner *cough*but also less durable than the last one*cough*!” That’s not a benefit, it’s a failure of design brought about by over-zealous marketing schemes and/or borderline profiteering.
How have things progressed that something this comically (tragically) absurd can be said with a straight face?
Tablets are one thing, but the modern “phablets” are another (like the Samsung Note series, the new iPhone6 Plus, Nokia Lumia 1520, etc.). Something that is called a mobile, and is meant to be used as a phone of some sorts (realistically more a multimedia platform that happens to text and place calls) bending in pockets, the most logical and sensible place to put something so increasingly important to the modern condition, is now something you should merely store elsewhere, or left at home, perhaps?
Again, this seems to be more of a male-stricken problem, as women haven’t been able to carry anything more than a few cents in their pockets since, well, basically ever. So perhaps this is a sort of one-sided argument that’s been a frustration for half the population for decades. It doesn’t make it any less absurd, it just layers the tragic comedies atop each other in some sort of insufferable cake representative of the modern world.
Sometimes the truth really is stranger than fiction. Go figure.