iPhone 5 is set for an amazing Christmas. The inventory’s ready, the market’s ready and with ten days to go, there should be a healthy synergy in stores here and abroad. Word on the street also holds that Apple’s worked out whatever glitches plagued the commerce steam in September when they registered a 3 percent share of the Chinese market. Most recent figures indicate that Apple’s present share is closer to 12 percent and that China is now Apple’s third largest market.
All of this is great news for the generations of tech savvy consumers who are as interested in the iPhone 5 as they will be in any future iteration of that product. The question is not whether the technology is flowing (it is), is ever enhancing (it is), is ever better serving the public (it is), but whether some segments of the population can keep up with all of it.
Change comes easy to the young because the rate of change in youth is rather fast. In the eight years between 11 and 19 whole worlds of difference occur in a person’s development. The 8 years between 52 and 60 don’t evidence the same kind of drastic change.
The point is that as technology changes the world daily, if not hourly, there are those who wonder if they can keep up with a world that’s all but remade every few weeks. They wonder if it’s worth their time and effort to keep up with it, to stay current. They wonder if they do keep up with all of it, whatever that means, then what have they kept up with?
Getting back to basics, the underlying functions of almost all the current technology since Gates, Jobs and Wozniak broke out in the late 70’s, falls into two camps: the acquisition of information and the communication of information. The technology invented to address those functions is also concerned with two things: the breadth and depth of the information to be considered, the speed of the acquisition and communication of the information so considered. Then there is the convenience, size and style of the item that reviews, acquires and communicates the information. (Of course there are apps for games, movies, music and other interests, but, for now, without any pejorative connotation, place them under the heading of “distractions.”)
In all instances the iPhone 5 is amazing. It can get you just about anything anyone might want and then convey it to whomever one might choose, even if it’s just a call home to wish a sleepy child a blessed good night. Yet there are other matters to consider. Speed and size aren’t the whole ball game. No matter how sleek the device, how perfect the transmission, how clever the hook up, how modern the method, there is one catch. The content of any conversation or conveyance of information still relies upon the information available, and the intelligence of the speaker to make the whole function worth the time and effort.
If a person has little to offer in the game of conversation, it’s like owning a Lamborghini and having no place to drive to. The hidden danger in all technology no matter how attractive, fun, neat or helpful, is that since personal computers first hit the scene about thirty years ago, there’s been a tendency to throw technology at problems in the way middle managers use to throw money at problems. It doesn’t work. In fact the mere addition of technology, which is misunderstood and improperly used, only serves to cause another more expensive problem.
As amazing as the iPhone 5 is, as smart as phones are and will become, they still require the human element to provide optimum service in any situation. By the human element one means that intelligence which might not be able to do calculations with the speed of a computer, or remember everything with a computer’s unfailing memory. They will still know which calculations need be made in which instance and for which purpose to affect conditions in the brick and mortar world. It’s the intelligence that knows where to plug things in, literally and figuratively.
Perhaps these are the ravings of the old folks, present at the tail end of each successive generation, the ones who talk too much and bore the young ones with tales from ancient history when everything was simpler and more difficult at the same time. Perhaps these are the ravings of that segment of the population who grew up having to dial numbers on a round disk, who had to speak to a central and local operator to put the call through, who were and remain pleased that the person on the other end of the line had no opportunity to see the caller.
Yes, these are the ravings of the old folks who will purchase an amazing iPhone 5 when the ship comes in and if there’s enough left over, will bribe a relative under the age of 10 to teach them how to use it.
By: Michael Hogan Op-Ed