Talking tech since 2003

This past week, Jimmy Fallon presented the pros and cons of getting Apple’s new iPhone 5s.  One of the pros was that it came in black, white, and gold, or in more technical terms: black, white, and “douchebag.”

Jimmy Fallon iPhone

He’s not the only one that feels this way.  Some consumers and others in the media have also made up their mind about Apple’s gold iPhone, with commercial parodies popping up on YouTube:

While the commercial is funny, it is specifically showing the characteristics of the kind of person who would purchase a gold iPhone:  inconsiderate, tacky and cheesy.  His mannerisms scream: “look at me! I have the new gold iPhone and I am so cool!”  (It is surprising how a color of a phone can evoke such a visceral description of the kind of person that would buy it).  But is the douchebagginess about the actual color of the phone or about the kind of person that rushes to buy the latest Apple gadget?

Apple products have always had a unique and exclusive quality to them and in many ways become a status symbol for people.  Some say that Apple may have chosen that color as the company’s way of further embracing its products’ status as symbols of wealth.

“Apple is making an iPhone 5s in the color gold for the same reason that they are making the 5c in a number of bright colors: as a way of empowering consumers with a highly-visible social signifier,” said Daniel Levine, the Director of the Avant-Guide Institute, a group that tracks global trends.  “The gold-color iPhone will telegraph to others that its owner can both appreciate and afford Apple’s latest mobile device.”

But what does it say about the people that are buying the gold iPhone?  Are they people that like it for the novelty of it or are they buying it because they want to show people that they can afford the latest Apple model?  And if it’s is the latter, are they douchebags?

In China and India, where Apple and rivals are fighting it out to be the dominant player in their still-booming smartphone market, a gold-iPhone may be received differently.  In China, for example, gold is viewed as a symbol of prosperity and early signs show that it’s being well received.  According to Sina Tech, the gold iPhone sold out in one day on the reservation system in China followed closely by white.  But then again, the things people like overseas are a little different than in the U.S.

David Hasselhoff

Despite the increased interest in gold phones now, they are actually nothing new.  In fact, Vertu, Nokia’s line of luxury smartphones, has been selling an array of phones encrusted in precious metals and diamonds since 1998.  But they truly did represent a status of wealth because they cost thousands of dollars.  A gold phone that is affordable to the masses will give the average Joe the ability to show that they too can afford something exclusive and flashy.

The bottom line is that the people that rush to buy Apple’s latest gadget will always exist, whether it’s a gold iPhone or a space gray iPad.  But one thing is for certain, if enough people race to buy the gold iPhone, you are bound to see more companies follow suit (and signs point to this already happening with HTC’s rumored gold phone).

So if gold phones do take off and they continue to be classified as “the douchebag color,” you are about to start seeing a lot more douchebags around town.

What do you think about the gold iPhone?

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