Blog

Morton's Smartphone: how we are being conned into thinking we got options

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 12.50.50.png

It's the grown-up equivalent of walking into a toy store with your pockets full of cash: choosing a new phone. You walk into a store (or browse to one) and start checking all the unique features every device has to offer. So many phones, so many options. First you have to decide: are you going Apple or Google? Which gigantic technology imperium are you gonna make even richer this year?

Well, I got news for you. You don't have any options at all and you are falling for one of the biggest scams in human history. 

It's one of the biggest ridiculous dogma's we blindly accept since the red/blue US election system: the absence of real options when we go out to pick up a new phone. The device that has become a crucial part of our lives comes in one edition and we accept it with unprecedented eagerness. We just can't wait to get the thing out of the box and start being obsessed by it. So here is the the nasty trick: we think we got dozens of options but when you peal off the flash and marketing techniques of these slick tech companies, all is left is one type of device that has one modus operandi. We are being conned into thinking we got a choice and forced into using our phone in one specific way. 

Almost all devices have the same hardware elements, just the details are different. One has a better camera, the other a better processor chip. Just a few bits and bites are different. Most phones look like each other too. Big screen, camera at the same location, battery at the back and oh yes, sometimes there is still a home button, sometimes the home button is absent (brilliant signs of innovation!!!). But when it comes the OS we are seeing the illusion of choice in full power. There is an online store where you can choose the apps you want to install and use. There are some pre-installed apps, there is home screen, you can make folders with apps and you got to unlock your screen before you use it. It's just the same system with different colors and some different user experience elements. The modus operandi is the same.

Even if this device and modus operandi was a perfect system that made sure everybody had equal access to the same amount of quality information and quality functionality, it still would be a bad thing if there is no real alternative. The thing is, we'll always need alternatives. We'll always need good competition. Without it, we are just getting mesmerized into acceptance and apathy. Guess what? The perfect position for a Google or Apple to be in. The general public thinks you are keeping each other sharp by pretending you are different but what you are really doing is creating the perfect atmosphere to exploit your business model (which is identical too) the best way possible. 

The cruel thing about these money breathing monsters is that they completely ignore their toxic effects on society. They just want you to spend your money on their device and software and once you did they want you to use that device as much as possible since their business model is just an ordinary advertisement based model based on screen time.

So here we are in 2018, the smartphone has become (in just 10 years!!!) the most influential piece of technology humans ever interacted with. The amount of time spent on these devices is staggering (3 hours a day on average!) and scientific research is coming in showing all kinds of dangerous effects on our physical and mental health. How the hell can we accept that we don't have any real options in how this piece of technology can play a role in our lives?  We would not accept it if we only had jeans to choose from when we went shopping for pants, right? 

We can't expect companies like Google and Apple to change their business. They are too far rooted in their own toxic grounds and simply put: the majority shareholders will never accept an interruption of the very successful business model. 

The real change has to come from the community. We have to demand a different role for smartphones. It has to start with creating an alternative. That is exactly what I'm doing with Onlive.