My friend’s laptop was on fire.
Rewind a couple hours earlier to last Friday morning. My friends and I sat in geology, discussing rock formations. One of my friends mentioned her laptop was misbehaving, making strange noises and not connecting to the internet. I attributed it to Miami Wi-Fi, but little did I know, a small storm was brewing beneath that luminescent Apple logo.
We headed to the bookstore after class, my friend hoping for a quick fix and easy answer. Unfortunately, in the short walk from Shideler to Shriver, her laptop had become even angrier, almost too hot to touch.
The likely cause of the situation was uncovered when he asked the computer’s age. My friend thought for a moment before answering, “probably around nine years old.” (Cue technician’s jaw dropping).
He explained to my friend that Apple laptops are intended to last four to five years (if you’re lucky). Unfortunately, his technical rationale didn’t comfort my friend at all. Watching her laptop, still piping hot and now smoking, the technician quipped how if it had been colder outside, he’d just leave Mr. Macbook outside for a bit to cool off. My friend was not amused.
Later that day, the smoking laptop basically exploded.
My friend’s example depicts an experience endured by many Apple consumers. The company intentionally designs products with a set life-span. They sheepishly admitted this last year, in response to complaints regarding defective batteries.
According to Apple’s website, the company “is reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement by $50 — from $79 to $29 — for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, available worldwide through December 2018.” —A considerate, yet unexpected gesture.
Iphones, iPads and Macbooks. Consistent updates, new features, new software but not always consistent quality. Yet millions of people buy again and again.
For instance, I’d purchased an iPhone 6s a little over a year ago, and soon it began having problems. Bad problems. My screen developed a mind of its own — I’d be texting a friend and the screen would suddenly scroll upward by itself, sometimes sending the text before I’d clicked “send.” Random apps would open without me clicking anything.
I stared at my five-by-seven inch rectangular companion, the one in charge of my apps, calendar, pictures and email, wondering what I’d done to deserve this.
I felt cheated. Comfortable with the predictable two-year Verizon contracts, I fully expected my phone to last two years, but, needless to say, I was in for a rude awakening. For a moment, I contemplated getting off the Apple ride to see what else the carnival had to offer, but just couldn’t do it.
Instead of leaving the ride, I bought another ticket. Having no desire to deal with a tempermental iPhone, I caved and bought a new one over winter break. Apple got me again.
I believe somewhere inside each Apple product lies a miniature tick-tocking timer ready and waiting to cry “update please.” I should mention that tacking on a “please” doesn’t better the situation. This isn’t a request, it’s a mandate. More often than not, these devices develop internal problems that force users to buy new ones. It’s all part of the game.
Most Miami students have laptops, and we use them for everything. Most of these laptops are MacBooks which cost between one and two thousand dollars. Having to worry about replacing these if they break down is an extra burden on college students already shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for their education.
Apple smiles, knowing they’ve got millions of users riding their merry-go-round, distracting us with a beautiful camera, flawless apps and a sleek exterior design. The aesthetically-pleasing advertising never fails to impress and they continue to dominate the technology market.
The line for the merry-go-round isn’t getting any shorter and it’s no wonder why. Apple has allowed us to essentially carry a computer in our pockets. Many of us take this privilege for granted, which justifies my first-world-problem rant.
I own multiple Apple products and, when they work, I love them. Yet, this appreciation is limited when I consider how the business world operates. In a global technology market, profit aspiration supersedes moral obligation to consumers and this process will inevitably continue.
Apple happily watches the money roll in, as the world rides its technological merry-go-round.
Whether consumers are enjoying the experience or not doesn’t matter; millions don’t leave the attraction because to them, it’s the best one at the carnival.