Apple said this week that it sold over 10 million new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models just three days after the launch on Sept. 19, marking a new record for the U.S.-based company. Such sales figures indicate that the iPhone continues to appeal, after last year's iPhone 5s generated similar levels of frenzy particularly in markets where the devices had previously not been available.
At the same time, there is a sense that a "smartphone" backlash is now taking place--or more specifically, an iPhone and iOS backlash. Already there has been an online hoax--which apparently originated from the controversial 4chan forum--that tried to convince "preteens" they could charge their new iPhones in a microwave. Apparently, some unlucky owners have even fallen for it, naturally completely destroying their phones in the process.
So why this wanton need to persuade others to destroy their expensive devices? Jealousy? Schadenfreude? Sheer badness? Or a need to somehow get at Apple through their customers (which seems a little harsh)?
Certainly, Apple has not enjoyed unblemished publicity in the last two weeks.
First there was the company's glib assumption that everyone in the world likes U2 and would be more than happy to give up valuable storage space to accommodate the band's latest oeuvre. Then there has been a peak in frustration over updates to iOS 8: as Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker put it: "It's like having to change the water in a fish tank…I'd rather let the fish die."
Indeed, analyst company Crittercism blogged that iOS 8 is causing apps to crash more frequently than iOS 7, and notes that adoption is lower than Apple might have expected at this point: "As far as adoption is concerned, we pegged iOS 8 adoption at 20.06 per cent as of the 22nd [Sept.], which is probably a bit low considering Apple confirmed a 46 per cent iOS 8 adoption rate as of September 22nd."
What's more, a teardown by IHS Technology revealed that the extra 0.8 inches of screen size offered by the iPhone 6 Plus compared to the iPhone 6 costs $100 extra for the consumer. However, for Apple, the iPhone 6 Plus costs only about $16 more to produce.
Brooker may well be far from alone in wanting "out of the club" rather than waiting hours for an update to download, and then finding nothing on your phone actually works after all that time.
Other research published this week also suggests that microwave hoaxes are not really necessary; we seem to be perfectly capable of destroying our own phones through sheer ineptitude. According to a report from SquareTrade, a lot of the damage is caused by actions not that far removed from placing a smartphone in a microwave, such as leaving a phone on a car roof and then driving off; letting your dog--which will chew anything--loose in the same room as an iPhone; dropping phones into water while fishing or at a spa, and more.
Apparently, smartphone owners in Britain alone spent around £4.6 billion (€5.8 billion) on repairs to their mobile phones over the past two years, and around 7 per cent of iPhone screens in the UK are cracked or damaged. What's more, close to half of all owners of damaged phones find the device functions are impaired.
We certainly seem to have developed an alarmingly addictive, costly and very time-consuming habit!--Anne