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Why we really 'need' iPhone X

By Mal Fletcher - posted Tuesday, 7 November 2017

If you're rushing out to buy an iPhone X (pronounced "ten"), you'll be paying significantly more than you did for its two immediate predecessors, iPhone 7 or 8.

The differential is $300 in the US. The total price in the UK is close to £1000.

You won't, however, be investing in much by way of revolutionary new technology. The underlying architecture of the phone is not that different. The major innovation seems to be a larger screen size, using a design approach already taken by Samsung.


So, if the technology is not that new, why will people fork out for a new iPhone when perhaps they already have the latest-but-one incarnation thereof?

Over the past two or three years, new phones generally have not offered great advances in technology. That's not why we buy them. As one iPhone X reviewer put it, we don't buy the new phone because we need it but because "we want one!"

The decision to purchase is not one based on need; it's all about emotion - especially what MTV once called FOMO, the fear of missing out.

Those of us who use gadgets relatively frequently - or a lot - don't like to feel that we're missing the latest iteration of a favourite gadget because tech plays such a central role in our day-to-day lives.

Yes, there are some advances in technology that we truly find revolutionary. But most of the advance happens in incremental and even largely unnoticeable ways.

When it comes to new gadgets, emotion trumps questions about technology.


Today, technology no longer simply helps us do things. It helps us define who we are and declare our values to the world.

Technology, especially the mobile variety, isn't just about microchips any more; it's about being part of a narrative.

We want the latest gadgets partly because we're influenced by social acculturation, the desire (and the pressure) to belong. That's why Apple product launches are always such dazzling events. They're saying to us, "Hey you don't just need this product, you need to belong to this very attractive community, you need to plug into this story, this cause."

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This article was first published on 2020Plus.

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About the Author

Mal Fletcher is a media social futurist and commentator, keynote speaker, author, business leadership consultant and broadcaster currently based in London. He holds joint Australian and British citizenship.

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