The YouTube parody of an iPhone-craving customer is a certifiable hit at more than 4 million views and counting. It's pretty obvious why.
First and foremost it's a critique of the cultlike following Apple products have. No surprise here. (Hey, I'm guilty. I have an iPhone 3GS and a couple of MacBooks. OK, I have an iPad too.)
But the customer avatar in the video distills this into a Terminator-like--I must have the iPhone 4, do or die. My interviews last month with the must-have-the-iPhone-4-first faithful camped out at an Apple store in Southern California on the evening before launch (more than 12 hours prior to sales) revealed similar single-mindedness in some cases.
And that's the genesis of the YouTube parody. Though some may quibble with the accuracy of the merits of the HTC Evo 4G versus the iPhone 4 in the approximately four-minute YouTube video (warning: vulgar language) and some of the language used, it's when the store clerk character crosses over into the absurd that it gets interesting.
After listing how the Evo trumps the iPhone 4 (bigger screen, removable battery/memory, higher-resolution cameras), the character touts its best features: "It prints money...It can grant up to three wishes, even if one of those wishes is for an iPhone." The customer's response each time is "I don't care."
Does this reflect the real world--at least at the fringes? Yes, I would submit. A few of the Apple storefront campers I interviewed were under the iPhone 4 spell. But ask them why, and their reasons were few and often pretty feeble. Other brands just didn't matter. Indeed, Apple could offer a paving stone with "Apple Slab" stamped on it and probably sell a few hundred thousand--or more.
And, again, I have lapsed into this mindset. I got the iPad on impulse, not quite sure why I was buying it. That said, I can't imagine camping out overnight for any product (the '70s equivalent of getting in line the day before Grateful Dead tickets went on sale) or even waiting in a long line. And I don't feel any impulse to upgrade my 3GS to an iPhone 4.
What can blunt this zombielike buying behavior? Nothing. There is Android, however. Android phones, such as the Motorola Droid, the upcoming Droid X, and the HTC Evo 4G, offer a different philosophy/experience compared with the iPhone. Something I'm certainly open to. As I said before, I will be looking closely at the Droid X. If it meets my needs better than my 3GS does (I like the Droid X's larger screen and built-in Wi-Fi hotspot), I won't hesitate to grab one.