How Apple Helped Tech Transition to Mainstream

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Remember when tech enthusiasts were all neck-bearded geeks living in their mothers’ basements whiling away the hours playing video games? While that is the most simplistic of stereotypes, it was true often enough to become a stereotype in the first place.

These days, the tech enthusiast in the household is just as likely to be that proverbial mom as the adult child in the basement playing video games. If tech enthusiasm were a ‘80s TV sitcom, we would have declared it to have jumped the shark by now.

The real question is, what’s changed? A lot has happened in the last 10 years of tech. We have moved from a time when it was in vogue for people over forty to brag about how they didn’t even know how to turn on a computer, to social media proficiency being one of the key determiners of which 70+-year-old presidential candidate gets elected.

The last 10 years have seen more technological change than any 10 years before it. But when anything hits the mainstream, whether it be tech or dietary trends, it is worth noting. Here are three of the ways Apple helped facilitate the transition:

The iPhone

It doesn’t matter how you feel about the iPhone. You can hate Apple, and vow never to own one of their infernal devices. It simply makes no difference whatsoever. Your life has been inexorably changed by the announcement of the iPhone 10 years ago. As USA Today put it:

“It was 10 years ago, Jan. 9, 2007, when then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced iPhone, and our lives haven’t been the same since. The iPhone is the most ground-breaking device of our generation, our Model T Ford, our airplane.”

Even if you have never driven or flown, your life has been shaped by the Model T and the airplane. In the same way, almost no piece of modern consumer electronics you own has escaped the influence of the iPhone.

You can tell how important iPhones are in the lives of everyday people by noting the number of protective iPhone cases you see every day on the bus, in the office, at the store, and just about everywhere else people congregate. People are willing to spend anywhere from $20 to $100 on top of the price of their multi-hundred dollars phone because they can’t afford the downtime of not having it.

Before the iPhone, smartphones were expensive techie gadgets with limited appeal. After the iPhone, the smartphone went mainstream practically overnight.

Convergence

It is hard to get people to carry a still camera, a video camera, a scientific calculator, a light-duty laptop, a portable gaming system, a music player, and a compact video player all at the same time. But it is easy to get people to carry a single smartphone. The iPhone 7 is all that and more. And the iPhone 8 promises to be even more indispensable.

Even budget Android phones are capable of replacing all of the above. And while mainstream consumers never tried to carry all of those things, they always carried at least one of them. Today, the value proposition of a smartphone is a no-brainer because of how many devices it represents. Value is a mainstream proposition.

Genius

One of the biggest barriers to the mass adoption of tech used to be the fact that people were afraid of something going wrong, and being unable to fix it. Tech was simply too intimidating.

One of Apple’s most genius moves was the feature of every Apple Retail store called the Genius Bar. If a person had a question about or problem with an Apple Product, they could take it to the Genius Bar for free and get an answer, if not a repair.

Suddenly, moms didn’t have to depend on a blue shirt at a big box, or their basement kid for help. They could go to the mall and talk to an Apple specialist and eliminate the intimidation factor with technology.

Apple is responsible for much of modern-day tech mainstreaming. They did it with the iPhone, with super-convergence, and by removing the tech fear-factor.




Edited by Alicia Young
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