Today in lecture, we touched upon the topic of ruins and how they are good for thinking. As such I thought of how they could be applied to our world today in a commercial aspect, outside of what is usually known as a ‘ruin‘.
As I have talked about in previous posts, many companies such as Apple and Microsoft can be considered modern ’empires’, due to their vast influence and impact on the world. But if empires exist, that means that ruins exists as well, as no empire can ever last forever. And when said empires do fall, they leave behind legacies, ruins if you will. So what kind of ruins exist in the commercial world, more specifically technologically?
So I thought about it, and soon enough I found such a relic in one of the drawers of my desk: a flip-phone. The classic flip-phone was once one of the most esteemed and ubiquitous items throughout the world. According to a study done by Nielson, in 2014, “65 percent of Americans now own a smartphone” but only ” 44 percent in 2011 and just 19 percent in 2009″. That’s a 36% increase for smartphones in just 5 years, while flip phones became less and less used. But look around today. It’s especially rare to even find a person in a crowded city that has a flip phone instead of a smartphone.
But this concept can be applied to almost every sort of obsolete technology. Just look back 10 years, when PCs didn’t even have more than 1 megabyte of data, or when you didn’t have the option to go eco when buying a new car. As technology continues to advance at the rate at which it is, older technologies become obsolete very quickly. But that’s becoming moreso the case in our day and age.
It’s all in the way that companies function and competition. Let’s take the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy for example. The iPhone is already on it’s 10th iteration (technically 9th as Apple decided to skip iPhone 9 for some reason), and Samsung is on schedule to release the Galaxy S9 soon. So why is this important? Well, just look at how the Apple has released new iterations of the iPhone. The original iPhone was released in 2007, the iPhone 3G was released in 2008, the iPhone 3GS was released in 2009… See the pattern? No? Well Apple releases a new iPhone EVERY YEAR. Let’s look at Samsung’s release dates:
The Samsung Galaxy S was released in 2010, the next model was released 2011, and the next was 2012. See a similar pattern? That’s right both companies, and many others release technologies almost every year or even earlier. Thus every year, whatever phone you hold, becomes obsolete in some way or another. Even if you decide to keep the phone you have eventually, the phone that you hold doesn’t even hold a match to the newest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. According to Huffington Post, Apple strategically forces you to buy a new phone. How? Well every time a new phone is released, they update the OS (operating system) that essentially isn’t made to run on your old phone. Thus if you want the most efficient device, you have to upgrade and make the ‘switch’. So in a way, every year, a ruin, a legacy, is left behind by each of these companies as they advance to bigger and better technologies and endeavors.
But what forces each company to advance so quickly, and keep this strict release schedule? Competition and money. Well according to Slate.com, the iPhone is Apple’s ‘cash cow’, which is completely true in my opinion. In this third quarter, Apple generated over 24.85 billion in revenue from just the iPhone. This is due to the ‘upgrade’ cycle as I like to call it. With a regular annual release schedule, Apple gives consumers a reason to upgrade even if their old phone is good enough. But the most important reason is competition. With a company and product like Samsung to compete with, Apple has to ensure that it keeps up. So simply put, companies have to release so frequently so as to ‘keep ahead of the game’. Thus, we rarely see any substantial changes on each new version of the phone.
With a new phone every year, your phone becomes more and more obsolete, until they are what we refer to as a ‘legacy’, or even a ruin. The old phones that we leave in our drawers become a legacy of the companies back so ‘long ago’. Just as ruins are good for thinking, the old technology make you see how far technology has come.