I remember 2007, when the first iPhone came out. No one but my richest friends had one, thanks to that wallet-gouging $500 (4GB) – $600 (8GB) price point. It took a special kind of consumer to happily cough up that much dough and contend with a contract. But even so, there was no shortage of demand. People’s eyes lit up as that sexy, aluminum-backed device graced the masses, and there were so many people kneeling at the altar of Cupertino that its limited grace — er, supply — ran out.
The lucky ones who did get their hands on it had the smug privilege of running around town feeling like an elite class of techno-trendsetters. Those who didn’t looked on with envy. Grown-ups slobbered over the device, and kids did anything they could to get one — from kissing up to their parents to doing extra chores or odd jobs to afford that symbol of cool.
But youth marketing agency Buzz Marketing Group reminds us that nothing lasts forever, and apparently that includes Apple’s cool factor. “Teens are telling us Apple is done,” spokesperson Tina Wells told Forbes last week. According to the agency’s research, teenagers would much rather have a Microsoft Surface or Galaxy Note. Not only are they new and pretty, but most importantly, they’re not hand-me-down devices passed on by their parents.
This should shock no one. When devoted users — some of whom remember standing in line back in 2007 — get a new model, it’s often their kids who inherit the last one. Repeatedly, this happens in some families, and that can make a lasting impression on those young sons or daughters. There’s just no better way to kill teen interest than by reinforcing the notion that the iPhone is “old people’s tech.”
That’s a harsh sentiment for a company whose “hipness” has always been its forté. While Apple haters have long been saying that iOS devices are washed up, those hardware and software criticisms bounced off like they were hitting a shield. So you’ve got to wonder, if teenagers — those almighty harbingers of consumer trends — now consider Apple’s flagship device to be lame, what does that mean for its future? Could it signal the beginning of the end?
Well, the market does encompass more than the teen demographic, so no one’s putting a nail in the coffin just yet. But it will be interesting to see if Apple can recapture young hearts and minds. The business world intently watches the youth market, and it will notice if those eyes light up — or roll up.