Reverse Innovation

By: Young Kim

With the release of Apple’s newest addition, the iPhone 12, consumers are faced with the same question they face every year. How will the other technology company’s compare? The past decade has been a constant power struggle for companies such as Apple, Samsung, and even Google to create the newest, most advanced phone possible. Yet, this year seems to garner an interesting change. Compared to Apple’s iPhone 12, which seemed to add on to the growing list of iPhones released every year, Google threw a curveball with their Pixel 5 which was priced $100 cheaper at $699 than the iPhone 12 and Google’s past model the Pixel 4. 

Now, Google did sacrifice some hardware in order to focus on purely the camera allowing it to reach the price while maintaining an upgrade. While this may seem like purely another phone, it brings up an interesting concept within the tech world: minimalism. Now, the Pixel 5 is nowhere near minimal in any aspect, but shows how in a competitive industry outpricing the other may not be the move. These companies have maintained a consistent pricing in order to maintain competition within the market, yet, buyers feel as if they are buying less and less with each new upgrade. While the new phones released may have a better processor or the new best camera, there has yet to be a phone that has had the impact of the original iPhone. In fact, consumers seem to find that upgrading is not worth the ever increasing price tags associated with the newest drops. 

The world of minimalism has been expanding, especially in the past few years, in order to combat the materialistic world. It focuses on the concept of working with minimal needs and follows the concept of “having less is more”. In extreme cases phones such as the Light Phone show what true minimalism may look like. The company prides itself on creating a phone designated on focusing purely on utility and only includes applications for calling, messaging, listening to music, a calculator, notes, and only a few other essential tools. It prides itself on the simplicity of the device as it takes up as little attention as possible. Modern technology seems to find ways in garnering the user’s mind and attention, yet the Light Phone is based on the exact opposite concept. It defies the technology industry by being less and its message seems to be doing more. Priced at a market low of $299 with the color options of black or light gray, it succeeds at being the perfect minimal phone. Of course this would mean users would not be able to have the internet quite at their fingertips anymore and the sacrifice of a convenient camera, but those that buy this phone understand why the sacrifice may seem more important. It directly combats the addiction to staring at our phone screens all day by not even giving the option to do so. 

As overwhelming as the tech industry may be, it should be clear that the newest upgrades are not always worth the costs. With minimal upgrades and maximum prices, it seems that consumers want to take a step back and consider the question: do I really need this?