As an urban-dwelling yuppie that spends the majority of my life in front of screens, I’m certain that I’ll soon be the proud owner of a new iPhone 6. I’ve decided that my post-Keynote hand-wringing as I debate the merits of buying a new device is worthless: I always give in. It’s downright amazing how quickly I can convince myself that my phone is a total piece of shit the moment I learn that a new device is on the horizon. I wish I could be more principled in my buying habits, but I’ve simply surrendered. Every fall, I quiver with delight as I drive to the Galleria Mall to snatch up a beautiful, crisp, shiny, perfect, wonderful new iPhone. Apple might as well sign me up for a subscription.

Then there’s AT&T Next.

AT&T Next is a program that requires no money down for a new phone but instead bills monthly for it. For example, a 24 month contract on a new iPhone 6 16GB bills at $27.09/mo. Here’s why this sucks for you but rocks for AT&T:

1) Carriers have set a precedent of pricing iPhones at $199/mo with a new 2-year contract. They’ve traditionally recouped their costs through customers’ monthly plans but they’ve always known that there’s more money to be had. Steve Jobs was adamant that consumers pay the lowest possible price for the iPhone and demanded exclusive contracts with carriers to keep it that way but, well, he died.
2) Customers can still do it the old way by signing a new 2-year agreement, but prices are $250 higher per unit if you’re still under contract.
3) $27.09/mo x 24 months = $650.16 for a phone that’s outdated by the halfway point of the contract.
4) AT&T’s “yeah but” proposition encourages you to trade in your new phone after 12 months to wipe away the remaining payments on your plan.
4a) $27.09/mo x 12 months = $325.08. That’s $126.08 higher than customers have been trained to enthusiastically pay, and they still have to trade in their old phones.

From AT&T’s perspective, it’s brilliant. We use the same rationale across all sorts of purchases. A $9,000 apartment lease is only $750/mo. A $30,000 car is $500/mo for 60 months (plus interest, of course. This is America). Now a $650 iPhone is only $30/mo (or something, I don’t know, they just bill my credit card. I’ll pay that off with my tax return).

Here’s the best part: we all know the truth and we’re not fazed by it. At all. The new iPhone sold 10 million units in the first weekend alone. And every one of those units amounts to $126.08 more for your phone company than their predecessors did. Screw it, I’m in.

- Dave

Photo courtesy Bloomberg.
As an urban-dwelling yuppie that spends the majority of my life in front of screens, I’m certain that I’ll soon be the proud owner of a new iPhone 6. I’ve decided that my post-Keynote hand-wringing as I debate the merits of buying a new device is worthless: I always give in. It’s downright amazing how quickly I can convince myself that my phone is a total piece of shit the moment I learn that a new device is on the horizon. I wish I could be more principled in my buying habits, but I’ve simply surrendered. Every fall, I quiver with delight as I drive to the Galleria Mall to snatch up a beautiful, crisp, shiny, perfect, wonderful new iPhone. Apple might as well sign me up for a subscription.
Then there’s AT&T Next.
AT&T Next is a program that requires no money down for a new phone but instead bills monthly for it. For example, a 24 month contract on a new iPhone 6 16GB bills at $27.09/mo. Here’s why this sucks for you but rocks for AT&T:
1) Carriers have set a precedent of pricing iPhones at $199/mo with a new 2-year contract. They’ve traditionally recouped their costs through customers’ monthly plans but they’ve always known that there’s more money to be had. Steve Jobs was adamant that consumers pay the lowest possible price for the iPhone and demanded exclusive contracts with carriers to keep it that way but, well, he died.
2) Customers can still do it the old way by signing a new 2-year agreement, but prices are $250 higher per unit if you’re still under contract.
3) $27.09/mo x 24 months = $650.16 for a phone that’s outdated by the halfway point of the contract.
4) AT&T’s “yeah but” proposition encourages you to trade in your new phone after 12 months to wipe away the remaining payments on your plan.
4a) $27.09/mo x 12 months = $325.08. That’s $126.08 higher than customers have been trained to enthusiastically pay, and they still have to trade in their old phones.
From AT&T’s perspective, it’s brilliant. We use the same rationale across all sorts of purchases. A $9,000 apartment lease is only $750/mo. A $30,000 car is $500/mo for 60 months (plus interest, of course. This is America). Now a $650 iPhone is only $30/mo (or something, I don’t know, they just bill my credit card. I’ll pay that off with my tax return).
Here’s the best part: we all know the truth and we’re not fazed by it. At all. The new iPhone sold 10 million units in the first weekend alone. And every one of those units amounts to $126.08 more for your phone company than their predecessors did. Screw it, I’m in.
- Dave
Photo courtesy Bloomberg.
Macintosh 128k Paula Scher's infamous Swatch ad from 1984 next to Herbert Matter's classic design.
I turned 30 this past weekend, so naturally I’ve been thinking a lot about the passage of time. Looking back at the world I was born into through the lens of 2014, it really looks like ancient history (which is not exactly making me feel better about getting older). This particular anniversary also has some intriguing crossovers with design and technology that I’ve been pondering recently.
On the day that Apple is announcing its sixth version of the iPhone, it’s interesting to note that Macintosh computers also recently turned 30. Steve Jobs and Co. unveiled the world’s first mass-market personal computer, the Macintosh 128k, in 1984 via a big budget hollywood style TV commercial directed by Ridley Scott, hot off the success of “Blade Runner.” The commercial looked like it could have been a deleted scene from that famous dystopian sci-fi flick as it depicted citizens of George Orwell’s “1984”, a gray-faced society of drones, marching single file towards similarly Orwellian looking monitors to receive a light brainwashing from “Big Brother.” The heroine of the advert, a sexy metaphor for Apple’s Macintosh, rushes in to smash Big Brother’s telescreen with a sledgehammer, proclaiming that the actual year 1984 won’t be like Orwell’s grim prediction after all, thanks to the liberating power of the Mac.

There is no doubt that 30 years later, the introduction of the PC can be seen as a huge turning point in countless arenas, especially the field of graphic design. That iconic TV commercial is also rather interesting food for thought this week though as millions of people around the world are lining up to buy the latest offering from Apple, all in the age of data mining, government espionage, PRISM, targeted advertising, Google, and Facebook.
On a lighter note, here’s some snapshots of what our world looked like 30 years ago. 
-Ryan

Microsoft, hard as they try, just doesn’t convince me. This ad is clever as hell, and it plays into their branding nicely, creatively. But none of that matters to me because I don’t like their products. They feel cheap, are over-designed, and don’t make my life any easier (quite the opposite, if my memory of screaming at inanimate objects is correct).

So at the end of the day, what does marketing, advertising and branding matter if your products aren’t up to snuff?

Still, a nice ad.

-Ben

Dieter Rams looks back on his career in this short documentary from publisher Gestalten. Released a while back in conjunction with the publication of Less is More, it’s a nice compliment to the immense Rams collection. Always a nice treat to refresh one’s self on Ram’s Ten Principles for Good Design (which Patrick posted about earlier in the year after a trip to SFMOMA). 

Elsewhere, a quick related (though old-ish) read: Dieter Rams, Jonathan Ives and the evolution of Apple design.

- Maggie

I’m always on the hunt for fun, new apps for my phone. I enjoy finding well designed apps that can help make my life easier or just make something I already do more efficient. 

I just discovered Squarespace Note yesterday and really love its functionality, design and overall simplicity. The basic function of the app is to make it easier for you to capture the many thoughts that you have throughout the day in a very simple and easy way. Once you have made your note you can then pick any number of services to have that note sent to. The services that are currently available are Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, Email and Squarespace. 

Read more about the app here.

-Steve

Jake Harms breathes new (aquatic) life into old iMacs with his kickstarter project, iMac Aquariums. When asked to throw out an old workplace G3 iMac last year, Harms instead took the colorful computer home, hoping to somehow repurpose the broken machine. 

He pulled apart the old iMac, installing lighting, a filter, and a special curved glass tank to fit the monitor’s shape, and his first iMacquarium was born. After a year of positive response, Harms has created a Kickstarter page, offering DIY macquarium kits in an effort to turn his hobby into a business. It’s a clever and beautiful looking effort for re-use, and I can’t help but think of those fish as tenants in a very swanky new apartment building. 

- Maggie

On the market since November, iPad app Mixel asks that you please do touch the art. In fact, it’s this precise ideology that separates Mixel from the rest of the collage app crowd, as every finished Mixel creation is available publicly, free to be remixed, rematched, and shared all over again. 

Pinterest hosts several boards for Mixel user bragging rights and features a fun “Where I Live” Challenge - looks like there’s plenty of room for some Buffalo mashup Mixel art.

- Maggie

Do you sometimes like combining two special things and making one very special thing? Great. Then Screenstagram is the new Peanut M&M of iPhone photography and your computer screen - a cool combo of the new Instagram API and Mac screensaver options. 

Barbarian Group has recently released Screenstagram, an Instagram-fueled screensaver for Mac users. “In a nutshell, Screenstagram displays photos from Instagram - it can show you your friends’ photos or photos from the Instagram popular feed, which contains highly rated photos from across the Instagram community.”

Brandon’s got a pretty wonderful Instagram stream going, and I’ve included a few of my favorite photos of his, above. Check out Screenstagram’s demo video to see how the product would play out on your own screen.

Screenstagram animation demo from Barbarian Group.

- Maggie

I was just at JFK’s international Delta terminal and there are iPads galore! You can order food, check email, download apps, read, whatever. They’re free to use and don’t have any restrictions. The only problem is you’ll probably have to beat up an old lady to get a seat in front of one. A seat with an iPad is prime real estate at JFK. Yikes!

-Patrick