Signs of the digital divide are bound to continue showing in patterns of digital consumption. Here are three of many ways in which consumers choices will show the social split among “haves and have nots” for the rest of the year: iPhone 5s or 5c, Google Wallet and the Samsung Galaxy Gear.
Giant technology corporations are part of an ongoing battle to optimize their market share of the world’s insatiable need for tangible and digital consumption. Apple, Google and Samsung among others have released the first part of their pre-Holiday product lines. Acquiring or wish-listing any of these items will influence social expectations in consumers. These expectations produce peer pressures dictated by status or aspiration, as well as behaviors that may be unintended. Here are three products that will bring interesting observations among social science types during the last quarter of 2013. Read quotes in valley girl/boy accent wherever it applies:
“Are you an S or a C?”
The latest edition of the globally popular iPhone splits the choices in two for the first time since it first launched in June of 2007. Six years later digital advertising channels get inundated with seamless messages pushing potential buyers to choose between the three choices of metallic looks of the 5s (gold included) starting at $199, or the “polycarbonate sophistication” of colorful 5c line at $99 …or hopefully less at Wal-Mart. The price choices segment the market in higher and lower purchasing power prospects. The color selection cuts further in its intention to exploit the schemata of different populations.
It is still a mystery if the “C” in 5c is intended to mean: China, color, cheap or to Apple detractors “crap.” What is assured is that it is bound to create enough jokes and cheeky social commentary. There should be no surprise in parodies of Apple’s design wizard Jony Ive-with his remarkably soft British accent-giving the world the hard sell on plastic, correction polycarbonate! Stay tuned for spoofs through YouTube or SNL, and then buy the show via iTunes.
Comedian/commentator Bill Maher recently joked about the new iPhone in his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. He poked fun at the U.S. through Apple indicating that “the 5s is for the haves and the 5c for the serfs” in comments about “the two Americas.” Differences in consumer choice may indeed be more emphasized in the United States, an increasingly income divisive society where Apple’s iOS has 43.3% of the mobile market share. This is a rather different market than the rest of the world where the different versions of Android have captured an 80% share. Regardless, the same could be said for choices in the different iterations and sizes of the popular Samsung Galaxy gadget line: “do you mean that your Galaxy is not a phablet?”
“You still carry a credit card?”
Google Wallet-which is available for Android and iOS-is a free digital wallet that stores the user’s credit and debit cards, offers and more. People can also send money, shop in-stores, buy online, store loyalty cards and a growing number of other services that should accommodate to the consumers demands, while Google takes on Paypal, Master Card, Visa, AmEx and many others in its mission to conquer the world “as we knew it”.
“Buy with Google button” now may mean “deal with a diminished checking account” after a shopping binge, on or offline. That may not be the case for those Google Wallet users who have received parental input on how to manage their finances. This is more common among kids of middle and higher income families, which only adds to the potential effects that these consumption trappings may present to the unprepared.
Smartphone users-and who isn’t one?-should not be surprised to find pre-pay options in e-wallets by Google and competitors. As new payment technologies become popular the giants should help prevent the consequences of impulsive electronic wallet abuse. Regardless, an after-market for apps-within-the-app, hacks and security mechanisms is expected …along with pretentious attitudes from spoiled brats.
“Ask me to tell you anything -and I mean anything- by looking at my watch, just not the time”
The first big name smartwatch was released by Samsung a few weeks ago. The Galaxy Gear Smartwatch is bound to become the fastest way to separate the geek from the rest, as well as the disposable cash benefactor from the 99%er (admittedly that may be a slight exaggeration.) Expect a world of apps to be designed for these handy ready-to-wear, show-off, nano-computerized dream watch of multi-color choice …as well as for their upcoming competitors from Cupertino, Redmond, and beyond.
Smartwatches will be the norm by 2015. Putting the social network of the well-connected person on their wrist is bound to create the ultimate posing mechanism to name drop without an excuse. Accidents caused by walking while “watching” may not be irregular among pedestrian imitators of “Dick Tracey” or “007.” At present time it seems innovating, but next year competitors strike back, everyone wants one, and new cultural behaviors originate. In the meanwhile under-privileged populations including senior citizens and consumers with disabilities will still have to wait for initial market saturation in order to be properly targeted.
- Will Apple’s October announcement be all inclusive?
- Should geeks without trust funds expect affordable polychrome iPad minis with apps for grandparents, ADD/ADHD populations, and/or anyone near the left side of the tracks?
A moral to the story, if there was one, might be: share the knowledge, do some good, and by all means keep the humility settings on.