Thursday, March 03, 2011

New Feeds to Old Needs

TITLE: New Feeds to Old Needs - beware of new feeds that do not satisfy
Written by: Conrade Yap
Date: 3 April 2011
All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:8-9)

In 7 days, there will be a familiar new face to an old electronic tablet idea that has developed a cult following. Apple’s iPAD 2 will be launched in the US on 11th March 2011. Filled with ‘new’ features like video cameras, improved graphics, an updated processor, newer software, and a seductive spectrum of eye-candy covers, the new tablet device is not just lighter and faster, it is also sexier. Like hockey players who sleep with the Stanley Cup after winning it, I suppose many who get the coveted IPAD 2 next week will rather surrender their pillows to snuggle up with their new digital darling. The new has come. The old will fade away. In this article, I shall argue that, what looks new is essentially nothing new.

A) The Fashion Market
Apple is leaving no stones unturned, catering not only to the technology crave in us, but also fashion awareness. The Cupertino-based company is no longer just sitting content in the computer or music business. It is fluttering all over the fashion industry, flicking pixie dust that resurrects new imagination and creativity, to tempt a generation that is increasingly impatient, subjective, and easily bored. Fashion is the new market. Fashion keeps pace to changing tastes. It caters to different likings. Its chameleon-like nature matches the human heart that desires change outside more than inside.

Photo Credit:
It is fashionable now to be reading the daily newspaper on your iPAD device at your favourite coffee-shop. It is fashionable to be browsing blogs and social media pages by swiping pages and pages of information from friends you know. It is fashionable to view your very own digital content on Twitter, Facebook, Blogs or any popular social networking platform, being published professionally. There is nothing new in fashion. It is just newer packaging to an old product. For example, buying a new shirt to match our growing size, addresses an old need for clothes. Upgrading our older computers does not replace our old need for connecting with people, albeit via digital means. Going to a new restaurant is essentially satisfying an age-old need for food and hunger. Fashion is another word for meeting a more sophisticated need to feel good. As a consumer, it is good to remind ourselves that businesses are still primarily concerned about themselves. Recently, I read somewhere about the priorities of Apple.

#1 - Apple company
#2 - Apple shareholders
#3 - Apple developers
#4 - Everyone else.

Woe to those mere consumers who think they are #1 in the eyes of Apple. Fact. Apple comes first to Apple. Customers are means to Apple's end in the name of a win-win scenario.

B) The Business of Feeling-Good
I think Apple is very business smart. They know that the way to grow the market is not simply to appease the technological whizzes out there. The world is much larger than computer nerds. Creating demand from new markets remains key to greater profitability. In business, there are basically three ways to increase profits. One, cut costs. Two, increase revenue. Three, create a deeper differential between the first two, by creating demand dramatically and lowering costs drastically. It is this third aspect that Apple has its eyes on. Snazzy thinking. Hey, these guys are not stupid. Sometimes I wonder. Are the guys at Apple more smart, or are consumers simply more dumb? The jury is out.

There is nothing new under the sun. Yet our culture is crying out for anything new, or anything that looks, tastes, sounds, smells, or feels new. Like the famous music in FAME, “What a feeling!” Feeling is the new paradigm of our age. If it feels good, do it. If it tastes good, eat it. If it appears good, buy it. In this aspect, Apple is inching ahead of the making-one-feel-good competition.

What is fashionable now may not be fashionable later. There is nothing new under the sun. Yet our hearts yearn for something new. Beware the apple that makes us think that a bite of it gives us a better knowledge of technological good and evil.

C) Fresh New Face to Old Content
Just the other night, I was trying out FlipBoard on my moderately used Twitter account. I was blown away. With the free app, my short Twitter posts, and links contained within, got published colourfully and professionally without me having to hire a digital content consultant! If I had not recognized my own content, I would have thought I was reading a high-quality product from some of the biggest names in media publishing, like New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USAToday, or the Economist magazine. Billed as the top iPAD application of the year 2010, FLIPBOARD in the iPAD is like desktop publishing is to the traditional Windows PC or Apple Mac.

I am impressed, but only temporarily. Soon, I find myself looking for more stuff. There is nothing new under the sun. It is just a restless heart that thinks there is something new out there. Call it hope. Call it craving. Call it a desire for wholeness. I call it the general depravity of mankind. Like it or not, we are all needy creatures. Until we wake up to knowing that there is nothing really new, we will continue to participate in a relentless spin from one ‘new’ thing to the next ‘new’ thing. Until we realize the importance of something more permanent, we will be deceiving ourselves by indulging in temporal things. Until we rest in God, we remain restless.

D) What’s New?
Perhaps, what we need is not new sounds but new EARS. Perhaps, what we need is not new stuff but new EYES. Perhaps, what we need is not new feelings, but new HEARTS. Perhaps, what we need is not new technology, but renewed RELATIONSHIPS with people. There is nothing new under the sun. Do not be deceived by hype. All ‘newS’ tries to portray something as new by putting an ‘S’ sign behind it. You may say it is all hype. With the iPAD 2, Apple is telling us it is not. Incidentally, I hear a lot about people saying good 'old days' or good 'old-fashioned' ways. I seldom hear people saying good new days or good new-fashioned ways.

Let me tell you the old, old story instead. We do not need new stuff. We need Christ. We do not need new gadgets all the time. We need new hearts. Only Christ can make us new.

The technological feeds may look new. Our needs are not.


1 comment:

J Wong said...

Well said, brother. :-)

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