Technology 2: Feeling You’re Behind


There are two big problems with technology.

1. Trying to find something interesting with which to illustrate technology articles.
2. Being on the one-year cycle.

Being an Apple fan has its downside. The biggest one is the messianic thrice-yearly announcements from Steve Jobs telling us that what we just bought is about to become obsolete. Three announcements for three platforms, making it one a year for whatever you’re using right now. And shops are kept in the dark so that the technology you purchase might change within days of your purchase.

For the first time, I feel I’m slipping behind – haven’t got the latest iPhone (I’m tied to a contract), haven’t got the latest Mac (we bought one days before the new arrival), haven’t got an iPad (waiting for the next one). As spies try to prise information from Indian factory workers about what Apple is up to, it feels as if it’s time for consumers to get smarter and hold back on their impulse purchases until the technology settles.

As a writer I love Apple – the sheer ease of operation helps me to think, but there are questions to be asked. Apple could help newbies pick their right device by ascertaining what they need it for, instead of trying to sell everything to everyone. For example, itinerant writers are better off saving for a Mac Book Air if, paradoxically, they live in a big city. Why? Because most of your urban trips with the ‘puter are likely to remain in or near Wi-Fi zones and you’ll want to upload stuff while you’re writing.

Conversely, you wouldn’t take an iPad to the beach unless you’re like the dopey Italian girl I watched on holiday who first dropped hers in the sand, and then in water. For some, though, the iPad makes a home computer obsolete – using your homescreen just for charts, recipes, surfing and contacts? You may no longer need it because phones now do all that. The Jamie Oliver app on my phone helps me shop and downloads videos to make sure I don’t screw up the meal (a distinct possibility). Although I can do with him shouting ‘Watch that boiling pan!’ every few minutes.

Of course, Apple’s job is to sell. But Disney’s job was to sell too, and they also held revival tent-type sales meetings. Eventually punters grew tired of overhype. I’m always surprised by how many people I meet who own technology they don’t use to capacity – all that computing firepower is unnecessary just for sending emails. Eventually we’ll all downsize to what we need, but until then many of us will remain on the one year cycle.