The All-New Things: iPhone launch
In this article, Questia Group focuses on the new iPhone models launch, namely on the awareness it has on the Romanian market and the particularities ranked by respondents as ‘most interesting’. Our research was conducted through an online survey on our platform www.questia.ro covering 976 respondents. The survey was active between 11 and 13 September 2017. Our key findings are presented below.
Each iPhone launch brings together people from all over the world in revealing the new features of the phone. Some researchers attribute such events as 'the revelation of modern cultural artifacts'. When the iPhone was launched in the US in 2007, it sold over 500, 000 units in the first weekend in the States. Since then, over 42 million iPhones have been sold, arguably making it one of the most successful mobile phone products ever launched, thus placing it as a “moment” in the history of cultural technology. The design philosophy, marketing, and business models behind Apple products have decisively reframed the values of usability that underpin software and interface design in the consumer technology industry.
For social scientists, consumption behaviors of the new technologies have a great deal of impact on the wider cultural and social practices. The debate that personal technologies are antisocial (Ling, 2004; Geser, 2005b) or pro-social (Katz et al, 2008) is still ongoing. Also, studies have noted the close emotional attachment that many people give to their mobiles (Vincent, 2005:118), for example saving old messages or keeping an old phone. Moreover, mobile phones are seen as an icon for the users, ‘an articulation of who they are… reflecting the users’ life at that point in time… about me, my mobile and my identity’ (See Vincent 2005). Other studies have reinforced some rather conventional gender patterns: male users tend to stress functional and instrumental uses of the mobile phone, whereas females tend to use it more as a medium for personal and emotional exchange (Lorente, 2002).
The iPhone is considered the latest ‘cultural commodity’ significant of the society of present times. In this sense, people adopt it for both functional and symbolic perspectives. Thus, it is rather associated with specific social practices (a way of life) for a distinct set of people (young, tech savvy) in certain places (the city, the open air). It is cultural because it has been given or acquired a social profile or identity, frequently appearing in and represented within our visual languages and media. Thus, the image of the iPhone has become a sort of metaphor, which stands for or represents a distinctively late-modern, technological culture or way of life. In addition, the cultural meaning of the iPhone is also constructed via specific positioning strategies, whereby the ‘similarity to’ and the ‘difference from’ other referent technologies, in a way, constitutes the mobile phone’s identity.
Some the effects that the iPhone has on consumers are:
- unprecedented connectivity, ‘enormously magnifying their social reach and power to alter distant physical circumstances’ (Katz, 2006:10);
- empowering and liberating’, ‘escaping the confines of a particular ordering’ in terms of the blurring of the boundaries between public and private space; or
- ‘domestication of the external world’ (Silverstone and Haddon 1996; Chambers; du Gay et al, 1997:106).
However, beyond its cultural effects, huge sales and ubiquity, the Apple company has received numerous critics. They arise from unethical business practices, such as dubious tax leaks, the use of sweatshop labor, insufficient data security , environmental destruction or the cooperation with the NSA Prism program that taps into user data.
Consumer awareness regarding the launch of the new iPhone models is high: 76.6% said they heard about this. This is quite interesting since our survey was in the field before the actual launch on the 12th of September.
Regarding the features that respondents prefer, the resistance to water (60%), the 3D technology (and smart camera, 48.9%) and the induction/wireless charging (48.8%) are the top three.
The face detection and the new screen are preferred to a lesser extent while removing the phone button is the least preferred featured. Needless to say, a new type of animated emoji, called Animoji, which can be controlled using a person’s own facial expressions and the fact that facial recognition can open banking apps are other features that the iPhone X now has.
Its price starts at the $999 for a 64GB model, rising to an astonishing $£1,149 for the 256GB version, and will be available for pre-order from 27 October, shipping on 3 November.
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