In Australia, there are two car manufacturers that compete above all others for the hearts and minds of the general public, namely Ford and Holden (GM). The rivalry between the two brands is legendary, and the most popular form of motor sport here basically only consists of these two (V8 Supercars - it’s a long story).
For some people, the idea of being passionate about a car is utterly absurd, they are merely a tool to get you from A to B. Yet for others it is the most natural thing in the world. I have often wondered what exactly it is that makes people fall in love with a particular car, or even cars in general.
I remember when I was 17, I had not long got my licence, and I was cruising down the highway in my very own car. I was on my way to see a friend. I was all of a sudden filled with an overwhelming sense of freedom. I didn’t need to rely on Mum, or the bus, or anything else. I was totally free, and I could connect with my friends at the drop of a hat whenever I chose. And those years were awesome. With my own vehicle, my social life went through the roof, getting girls was so much easier, and the good times I had with my friends could not have been possible without us having our own vehicles. There were road trips across the country, late night visits to each other’s places, and the usual antics people that age get up to when given a licence and a car.
But it wasn’t really the car that was awesome, it was connecting and hanging out with the people I loved and that loved me.
Which is why I think a similar passion for tech now exists among young(ish) people.
The computer or smartphone is more than just a utilitarian tool meant as a means to an end. It represents freedom. It represents connecting with your friends and loved ones. It represents getting noticed. It represents being able to express yourself to people that ACTUALLY understand you. It’s the tool you use to flirt with that girl, or arrange a catchup with your mates, or express how great or lousy your day was. It’s what you use to share everything that catches your eye. And it’s how you know what’s going on in the lives of those you love too.
It’s not the device itself that is a fundamental human need, but all the things it does sure are.
I think that the smartphone wars are only just beginning. People have a very good reason to be passionate about these products. They will become like cars have been to a generation before us. A reason to gather together. A tool for achieving freedom. A way of expressing yourself.
Apple understands how much a phone can be an expression of yourself and a status symbol more than other brands, but it won’t be that way for long. You wouldn’t buy a butt-ugly car no matter how much horsepower it had or airbags they shoved in it. We all understand this fact when it comes to vehicles, yet struggle to grasp that same reality when we look at why people buy the phone they do.
I love my phone, and I love what it represents and reminds me of. If you want to sell me a different one, you will have to win my heart, not make a bigger screen.