Tech Addiction Costs Big Bucks

by Ryan Yates on November 7, 2012

How long did you stand in line?

I’m writing this post on my custom built desktop computer.

Instead of buying some off-the-shelf, generic computer that everyone else has in their home, I designed, built, and assembled every feature of this glorious machine.

I hand picked each component that makes this puppy run – a gaming case with 5 of the quietest fans you’ve ever heard, a monster processor, motherboard with USB 3.0 and core unlocker, a graphics card with HDMI output and more dedicated memory than my previous two laptops combined, and a whopping 16 gigs of ultra-fast memory.

There’s no way on Earth that I actually do anything requiring 16 gigs, but I’ve got it if I need it.

And there in lies the problem . . . we become addicted to upgrading technology, electronics and gadgets without precisely identifying our true need for them.

Philip W. Schiller, Apple’s vice president for marketing, said it best when he introduced the latest iPad mini, the slimmest iMac computer, and a host of other beautiful (and expensive) electronic devices, “Isn’t it amazing how something new makes the previous thing instantly look old?”

It sure is! But we can’t continue to blame strategies such as Planned Obsolescence for our zombie-like desire to spend money on new stuff.

We have to begin to take responsibility for our own actions, and that means we have to look long and hard at the person in the mirror.

Know the Rules of the Game

One of the best defenses in the battle against technology upgrades is knowing the rules that the manufacturers are playing by.

Rule #1: The manufacturer has spent millions of advertising dollars to make you want to throw away your perfectly good tv, computer, phone, or tablet only to replace it with something marginally better. (At first glance, the 4th generation iPad – no, not the mini – isn’t exactly “double” the speed of the 3rd gen. In fact, in basic user review, the iPad3 actually outperforms it’s newer brother in a few areas).

Rule #2: That new gadget you just bought . . . yea, it will be out of date in about 6-9 months. Again, the word on the street is that Apple is planning another iPad and/or iPad Mini announcement next spring. Do you wonder why the iPad mini didn’t come with the new Retina Display? Because Apple wants you to buy another iPad mini next year.

Don’t think I am picking on Apple, they’re just so transparent about their tactics. Plenty of companies play the exact same game. Samsung, Sony, LG, Motorola . . . all of the major electronics manufacturers want to stay on top of the mountain, and that means delivering newer devices almost every quarter.

Rule #3: If they’ve got one, they’ve got 100. Manufacturers rely on our own enviousness, jealousy, and desire to keep up with our friends and neighbors to line their pockets with gold dust.

If a company can convince one person to buy they’re product, then word-of-mouth can do the rest (especially if that one person happens to be very influential). They’re counting on your neighbors, co-workers, and friends to socially pressure you into that new purchase.

Playing by the Same Rules

It’s not enough to know how tech companies are trying to persuade you to buy their new stuff, you’ve got to play by those rules as well. If you understand the advertising game, it’s easier to live above the influence of everyone around you.

Instead of becoming one of the mindless sheep who continue to go deep into debt just to own what the television tells them, see the game for what it is and use that phone for three or four years, stretch the usefulness of your new tablet into 2015, and maybe, just maybe, skip a few generations of your iLife.

In the end, remember that you’re trying to keep more money in your pocket.

Photo By deerkoski

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian T November 8, 2012 at 9:26 am

I’m a tech geek, but frugal as well. I don’t have the newest iPhone5. I typically get every other version of my favorite gadgets so that the bugs are worked out.

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Fred January 18, 2013 at 1:49 am

At least with a custom PC you can pick and choose your upgrades. People stuck with laptops etc will have to upgrade the whole machine to get any kind of upgrade which is much more expensive. I just operate on the premise if it ‘aint broke don’t fix it.

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