Phones & Our Sense of Value

Jan Chipchase, who has to have one of the coolest jobs on the planet, points out that as phones get cheaper — or at least appear to, as they are sold for very little as part of a service package — so does our perception of their value. Living in a country where you buy the phone yourself, I find attitudes to phones in places like the U.S. and UK startlingly cavalier, as if the device is unimportant and easily replaceable. Which I guess it is. For me, losing my Treo would be deeply, deeply painful.

But the gulf between sticker cost and actual cost hides something deeper than a lighter wallet. Like the humble biro it changes our perception of what it means to ‘own’ a product and may well have significant impact on the speed at which the product ends up reaching the end of its life as a functional object, of being discarded.