I love getting something new, especially if it’s a piece of tech. Before I buy some new tech I’ll spend a good couple of months, possibly longer, researching every option and working out what will suit me best, whether the item costs £20 or £200. I then buy the new thing and love it passionately for a few days (no USB-themed sex jokes please) and then it becomes the norm and that passion dies. I still enjoy using it and having it, and I certainly appreciate it, but that buzz of discovery and first-time interaction is gone. Right, this is sounding like a terrible metaphor for relationships so I’m going to move on.
The reason I’m talking about novelty is because I’ve just ordered my new phone. For months I kept a keen eye on the mobile market and researched the new phones coming out. In the end it came down to a choice: The iPhone 4 or the HTC Desire. I already own an iPod Touch and I love it. But I love it for the music side of things and looking up something quickly on the internet when I can’t be arsed firing up the laptop. I decided against the iPhone in the end because I don’t like the way Apple have created this world of lowered expectations with the device. A good example of this was when the iPhone finally added copy and paste functionality as a major part of an update. It’s copy and paste. COPY AND PASTE. There are a few other reasons I didn’t pick the iPhone including cost and lack of customisation (for a product that pushes the huge choice available on the App Store, it bothers me that every iPhone looks the same once you get beyond the lock screen.) Anyway, I’m going into too much detail. The iPhone is a great phone and that can’t be denied, though having seen the glowing reviews for the HTC Desire I thought that would suit me more.
Here’s the question I’m going to pose in this post: How quickly will my new phone go from mega-exciting to functional and nice? Does the fact that it’s customisable on such a large scale increase the longevity of the post-purchase excitement, or does that not make a difference because an operating system is an operating system and no matter how you customise it you’ll soon be familiar with what it can do? Also, if I get a mate to kerb-stomp me and mess up my brain, will waking up every day to a totally fresh user experience with my phone outweigh the longterm effects of severe amnesia?
A big part of me thinks that I agree with the equation ‘more functions + large customisation opportunity = long-lasting fun’ mainly because of the reliance on apps for smartphones. A few years ago when you bought a phone you simply got what you got: There was no downloading of new apps or operating system updates or anything else. You got your texts and your calls and maybe an OK-ish camera and that was your lot. Nowadays (get me, I’m twenty-fucking-five years old) you can change what your phone can do and be every 5 minutes. You can download a tiny turntable to scratch out samples of your voice to annoy people. You can stay up to date with any person in the world at the flick of a finger. You can even press a button that makes a fart noise. The options are almost limitless.
I suppose I’m worried that I’ve hyped myself up a little too much for this (this post contributes towards that) and I don’t want to get bored of what I have as the new standard length of phone contracts is quite grim when you really think about it. Can a piece of technology truly be familiar and exciting at the same time?
Maybe I’ll just use it for 12 seconds per day. That way it’ll take a good three years to get past that post-purchase excitement.