It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Apple products. In my humble opinion, when Apple combines remarkable industrial design with impeccable usability they create things of beauty. Things of useful beauty. However, an area in which I feel the company and its users could improve is the longevity of this usability.
Apple introduces new hardware on a (roughly) annual cycle. This rapid release schedule feeds their user base with the idea that the devices currently in use are inferior. By doing this, they’ve trained us to upgrade on a faster-than-necessary cycle. It seems the only thing preventing Apple from making hardware useable for years on end is their business strategy.
Khoi Vinh in a follow-up to his wonderful analysis on the (lack of) upgradability options in the new retina display Macbook Pro:
“There’s very little keeping Apple from making an iPod or iPhone or iPad that would last for a decade or more, even if to do so would mean its software could no longer be practically updated at some point (in fact that already happens, which is totally fair, but almost invariably, the hardware begins to break down at that point too). And there’s very little keeping Apple from engineering their devices in such a way that they get better looking over time. Their margins are certainly healthy enough to impose this kind of challenge upon themselves.”
As a user of a not-so-new MacBook Pro (2010), iPhone 4 and first-generation iPad, I fight the urge for bigger, better, faster and more on a regular basis. While I catch myself longing for new devices, the fact is that each of the devices I currently own provide more than enough usefulness for me to perform my daily work. Siri would be great, but I get along fine without her. Same for my Macbook’s non-retina screen. So what’s stopping me from using my iPhone 4 well into the future?
Part of the longevity problem falls with Apple’s release schedule, but a large portion also resides with us — the users — and our desire for the latest, newest thing. This desire is a myth, though, and it can be eliminated once we welcome contentment and acknowledge the fact that enough is, often times, more than enough.