Asymmetrical Information - Megan McArdle

02.22.13

Upgrading Ain't What It Used to Be

Why are people so desperate to have the very latest Apple device?

Apparently, a Brazilian group is actually suing Apple because the iPad 4 is too awesome.  No, seriously.  They're mad that they went out and bought iPad 3s and now the iPad 4 is better and Apple should just have not made the iPad 3 so that they'd have waited to get a 4 and . . . seriously?  

I mean, forget the incredible entitlement of this argument . . . "Apple made an iPad 3 which is basically just the same as conning grandmothers out of their life savings with fake charities!"  I've gotten over that.  Whiny self-entitlement seems to be what the internet is for.  No, what surprises me is that there are still people getting caught up in the Apple upgrade cycle.  That feels so 2007, you know what I mean?  

Of course, I would say that: I use an iPad 1, which might as well have been carved out of a block of flint as far as the Fast Cyclers are concerned.  In my defense, we bought this iPad on our honeymoon, and I'm rather attached.  Okay, also I am far too cheap to buy a new device while the old one is working fine.  

But that's the thing: it's working fine.  I read and play games on it.  I'm not trying to calculate the perihelion of Jupiter or do 3D renderings of the National Cathedral.  I barely even use it to check email.  

As it happens, I own an iPhone 5, because my previous iPhone, a stodgy old 3 something-or-other, decided that it would rather not hold a charge any more, thankyouverymuchandgoodnightsirIsaidgoodnight!  But I can't say that the iPhone 5 has been the sort of life-changing experience that I would pay perfectly good money for in order to replace a perfectly good phone.  It's a little lighter and it's a slightly different shape.  By show of hands, how many of you are currently developing advanced scoliosis from the unbearable weight of your cell phone?

Yeah, me neither.  

I just don't get the mileage out of upgrades that I used to when new devices were very noticeably faster and more awesome than the ones I replaced.  In part because the stuff I do is more and more web-centric, which means that it rarely requires mega processing power.  So I'm puzzled as to why people greet new Apple devices the way gamers used to slavver over the latest Pentium upgrade in the mid-1990s.  

So here's your Friday Forum question: how often do you upgrade?  And is it more, or less often than you used to?