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Is iPhone keeping millions of its users hostages and is thriving on Stockholm delusions?

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iPhone has achieved a cult status amongst its users. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to call the iPhone enthusiasts as fanatics who would clearly not be amenable to reasons, but are more driven by a passionate engagement with their iPhone mobile experience.

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The same is true for iMac fans and apple has made it a profession or two cultivating such fanaticism and loyalty in its users. Much of the loyalty is well deserved due to its innovative UI designs and the unique user experience that its devices provide.

However a question that still remains unanswered is whether the apple products are the best in the breed and provide the latest technological experience to its users or are they just mediocre devices with sub-standard functionality , that is made acceptable because of the good UI.

Strand Consult, which perhaps does not have an unbiased view on the matter, argues that Apple is keeping millions of its iPhone users hostage by providing them a good user experience, but sub-standard functionality. Once hooked, people find it difficult to switch to any other phone and are potentially kept hostage to the Apple evil empire. 

Not that the iPhone users are complaining; rather the users rationalize the substandard Apple product by going the self-delusional path of finding merit in the flaws that apple product has.  Sounds familiar: its not a bug, its a feature!

They compare this to the famous Stockholm syndrome studied in psychology  whereby the hostages become sympathetic to their tormentors and start believing in their tormentors ‘philosophy/worldview and start rationalizing their being taken hostage. Their helplessness is transformed as affections and understanding for the hijackers and anger redirected to the system against which the hijackers are fighting. 

This is an interesting analogy. Strand consult give numerous examples of how lack of functionalities in iPhone are construed as design goals by the fanatic iPhone user.  To boot:

  • You cannot forward a SMS: This is a function that hardly anybody uses and was therefore not included in the first iPhones.
  • The phone has a poor camera: The built-in camera is perfectly adequate and the iPhone takes fantastic photos with its camera.
  • It is not a real Smartphone, it cannot multitask: The phone has all the necessary functions and the OS is technically superior compared to other Smartphone OSs currently on the mobile market.
  • The app store is a closed universe: Apple knows what is best for end users, which is good for the many iPhone users.
  • The iPhone does not support memory cards: Iphones already offer the necessary memory people require and end users can choose between two models, one with a little memory and one with a great deal of memory.
  • You can not install your own browser: The browser Apple has designed is so superior that you do not need any other browser on your phone.

There are many more such examples and it also has a free report on iPhone that you can get from strand consult. I believe there is some truth to their assertion that iPhone users delude themselves.

But the bigger question is would Android provide a viable alternative and offer the red pill to those living in the deluded matrix world of apple?  We all love our purchases and something as costly as the iPhone/Android handset becomes a part of us too and it is natural to identify with it and ignore its shortcomings. Do you own an iPhone and have fell in the same trap? or are you still not convinced and would continue living in the blissful world of the matrix? Do let us know your experience with the iPhone!

  1. Serial Insomniac says

    In fairness, Apple corrected the inability to forward text messages with OS 3.0, and there are alternative browsers available on the App Store, if that counts as one’s own.

    But maybe I’m defending them in the Stockholm-esque fashion ;-)

    In all seriousness, the iPhone *is* flawed, and frankly Apple are not an especially appealing company. But I just wouldn’t be without my iPhone. It lets me keep track of Twitter, email and any web queries I may have virtually anywhere, it entertains me with games when I’m bored. I know the ‘there’s an App for that’ tagline is annoying, but it’s true: as of this writing, there’s more Apps on Apple’s ‘store’ than on all the other smartphone shops combined. Until they can compete in this arena, the iPhone surely has the edge over other smartphones. They might be more viable then, however.

    But it’s just *so* gorgeous..!

    Hmm, OK, I have serious Apple Stockholm. I admit it.

    1. Sandy says

      Hi Serail Insomniac, the point is exactly that- by introducing in later versions apple implicitly itself admits that the features are useful and must have- only the apple fanatics do not think so unless the mighty Apple introduces those features in the next version. So the fact that Apple does introduce the features slowly and over a period of time , while the competitors have it from day one, speaks volumes about iPhone’s feature set.

  2. Madhav Shivpuri says

    I bought and use my iPhone for one simple reason – to be able to check and reply to my email anytime. The iPhone does this and many more things fantastically well.

    Cribbing that their iPhones are not doing enough is like simplistically saying that Windows 3.1 did not have all the features of Windows 7. I believe that the concept of “versions” is a journey and cannot be accomplished in a day.

    I might be suffering the Stockholm syndrome but I do not believe that we all can use every single feature on the gadgets we own just because it exists. So, whether or not Apple allows certain features could be a matter of time or as Capitalism rules, a matter of time before the competitive market forces compel Apple make available these features.

    If people want to have everything they want, they can jail break their iPhone and write their own apps. Any takers?

    1. Sandy says

      Madhav, the crib is about basic features like a good camera not supported in iPhone when it launched. There is considerable arrogance/complacency in the Apple camp that they can even get away with murder based on a good user experience alone.

      I agree that most of the users do not use all features of their devices correctly/ at all and 80% of them would be using only the basic features. However for the rest 20% of power users, lack of app store transparency etc are factors that demotivate/adversely affect the user experience. The irony is that in iPhone’s case even the 20 % of power users are not cribbing and are ready to wait till eternity for the next versions.

      You are right to point that it may just be a matter of time before apple too catches up, but in todays world speed is also an equally important factor and might prove to be the Achilles heel of apple.

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