Christmas has come and gone, and in its consumerist wake thousands of people are left holding shiny new Kindles, iPads, iPhones and iPods. New toys that are fun, useful and beautiful all at once.
And while I see the attraction of these devices — I’ve been tempted myself many times — I also know that they are some of the best marketing devices ever.
Yes, they are useful. Thousands of books on one tiny reading device? Amazing, in all sincerity. I’m all for something that encourages reading and lightness at once. They can also be used for work, email, social networking, showing off family photos, watching films, listening to uplifting music, teaching kids math and reading, exploring new worlds … these are very very useful devices, I’ll admit.
But once you get one, what’s the first thing you do? You go to buy some content. Because at their heart, these are content devices, and they come loaded with a little content but not nearly enough to last a day. So you buy books, and this is Amazon’s main goal with the Kindle, and it is wildly successful. The Kindle might cost you $79 (or a bit more), but you’ll spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on books.
And books are just the start of the buying. If you have an iPad, you’ll buy movies and TV shows and music along with the books. The Kindle Fire will get you to buy these media too. If you have an iPhone or iPod, the music is a must, but other media are also bought in bushels. Android and Nook devices are no different.
Then there are apps. Apple has sold millions of apps from the app store, which means if you have one of their devices, you are likely to buy a bunch as soon as you get your new toy.
So if someone has given you a beautiful new device, they’ve given you a gift that will cost you probably thousands of dollars, not including the cost of connecting the device (which could be just as much money if you need a data plan).
I am not disparaging anyone who has bought or received these devices. They are useful and attractive. But let’s acknowledge their true purpose. With this awareness, we can use our technology with consciousness.