Marginal Benefits

I just wanted to write a quick post on technology, marginal benefits, and actual harm. 

Speaking personally, I think I’ve reached the point at which further improvements in my day-to-day tech devices, my iPhone, iPad, iMac, and Apple Watch, no longer confer meaningful additional benefits. Everything is truly good enough. Apple can continue improving its products, and at some point I’ll be forced to replace existing stuff, but I don’t suspect I’ll be too happy about it. 

I think Apple is trying to address this situation — and the good enough problem — by segmenting the market through a range of product price points and features. The problem is the iOS updates — if I own an older but good enough version of the iPhone, the latest update may not work too well and Apple will ultimately discontinue support for earlier versions of iOS. So it starts to feel like I’m being forced to replace a product I don’t want to replace. Feelings of delight shift to feelings of exploitation.

None of this is new insight, I know — people have been writing about this issue for a long time.  

There seems to be an assumption among tech writers that all technology and all technological improvement is good. I’m really starting to question this. Is my Apple Watch or my iPhone a good thing? Is social media a good thing? Do these technologies make it harder to focus on in-the-moment conversations, and make it harder to develop deeper relationships with people you care about and want to spend more time with? Do these technologies distract you and cause unnecessary stress? Do social media and smartphones redirect time and attention away from what’s important and toward things that are trivial or superficial?

Flip-phones are sounding better and better to me.