"You're looking for the secret. But you won't find it because of course, you're not really looking. You don't really want to work it out. You want to be fooled." ~Cutter, The Prestige (2006)
Look around you. Look closely. Look carefully. What do you notice?
You're surrounded by technology. Right now, you're using technology. You're reading this article on an electronic device. Chances are your phone. Probably an iPhone. Or, a MacBook. Surprised? Don't be.
Recently, Apple became the first company to be valued at one trillion dollars. To put that into perspective, that's about 5% of the entire GDP of the United States. To many, this doesn't come as a surprise. To others, it may be baffling. It's safe to say that Apple has exceeded expectations in this situation. The question that remains is, how did they accomplish this? How did Apple become the first ever company to reach this milestone?
Before attempting to explain how this came to be, it is essential to consider the underlying foundation behind the products and services that the company provides, and how it appeals to consumers. When Apple was founded, Wozniak and Steve Jobs had something very particular in mind. Something that would drive humanity forwards for decades to come. Innovation. Take the original iPhone, for instance. The first of its kind, it sparked a new wave of technology, leading to the present-day smartphone. Or, the iPod – revolutionary development, allowing people to carry their music with them anywhere they go. Back then, Apple used to stand for progress, for scientific development. It was a work of inspiration. Today, in the name of "innovation", Apple offers cheap gimmicks such as a slightly bigger screen and animated emojis, and charges you $1000 for it. Today, it seems to have taken on another motto:
"New is always better." ~Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
Apple's mantra has changed. Apple's current philosophy seems to be synonymous with this age-old adage, persuading people to purchase new products. Why bother using your old phone when you can buy a shiny new one?
Today, Apple is a worldwide phenomenon. It strives to exploit fundamental human weaknesses, including gullibility and narrow perception. We live in a world dominated by advertisements, propaganda, and social media. If something looks good, we assume it to be a worthy purchase. Practicality and usefulness are beginning to take a step backward, in favor of external appearances.
Apple has become more than just a brand. It's become a cultural icon. And when something is embedded so deep into the mind, it is difficult to eradicate. Apple is almost cult-like in its following, with ardent supporters, willing to accept and purchase whatever is thrown at them. As puzzling as it may be, despite being significantly inferior in almost every way, the iPhone X inexplicably outsold its direct competitor, Samsung's Galaxy S9. Why?
Ask anyone who purchases Apple products, and they will usually have no reasonably justifiable answer. "Despite all their shortcomings, you'll find me queuing up to buy the new iPhone when it's released," said one friend of mine. "I have a Macbook/iPad and it's impossible to sync an Android phone with it." "Buy the $3000 MacBook Pro". This is a blatant abuse of monopoly power, wherein Apple forces customers to purchase multiple devices simply by restricting access to other technology, causing extreme inconvenience in their lives. Let's not even get started on the quality of their chargers, which never seem to last more than a year. This certainly does not justify the extra premium that Apple charges on its devices. The iPhone costs at least $200 more than the Samsung Galaxy S9+, a significantly better phone by all metrics. Furthermore, Apple does not offer ANY features or services not available on other devices. There is no reason for them to justify the extra cost of their products, except for, well, because they can. Because they know that their followers will buy their new device, regardless of the price.
Another factor to consider is that in most professional fields, including engineering, medicine, business, accounting, and most of the hard sciences, employers and companies tend to operate on Windows software and devices, as they provide an equally good, if not better service, and higher versatility at a lower long run unit cost. Instead of increasing the cost of capital by purchasing Apple products for the entire company, businesses possess the freedom to use gadgets according to their customised needs and utilities.
Companies like Apple feed on the societal hive mind created using mass propaganda through social media. However, more importantly, it is essential to consider why people fall for this trap. Despite Apple mistreating its customers to the point of ripping them off by slowing down devices intentionally, iPhone sales continue to boom.
Ultimately, this boils down to one simple reason: Apple is feeding off its preceding reputation and baiting people into purchasing their products, thus trapping them into a recurring cycle of purchasing more Apple products to maintain a certain consistency. Going back to the quote from The Prestige at the beginning of this article, the clearly glaring flaws in their products are overlooked, simply because people WANT to overlook them.
This issue, however, goes beyond merely Apple. We, as a society, need to take a good, hard look at ourselves, and our behavior regarding sensitive issues. Too often are people afraid to speak up and voice their concerns, and instead just try to "fit in" with the popular opinion, establishing themselves as part of a hive mind, like sheep. Too often are people, companies, and governments are allowed to get away with unethical and irresponsible acts.
Today, I urge you to be more vocal about your concerns. Speak up. Do not be a bystander. Do not feel the need to adhere to a particular group of people, just to "fit in". Most importantly, do not be gullible, and have an open perspective on issues. Look beyond immediate perceptions, and go into things with an open mindset. In an increasingly volatile world, it is essential to bring some balance to the chaos. So I urge you to be the change you want to see in the world.
You're looking for the secret. And you WILL find it because you ARE looking. You really DO want to work it out. You DON'T want to be fooled.
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