Steve Cichon, a “writer, historian, and retired radio newsman” got a clue in 2014 when he paid $3 for a stack of old Buffalo News newspapers. On the back page of February 16, 1991 issue was an ad from the electronics retailer Radio Shack. Cichon noticed something striking about the ad: “There are 15 electronic gizmo type items on this page… 13 of the 15 you now always have in your pocket.”
The “gizmo type” items that had vanished into the iPhone Cichon kept in his pocket included a calculator, camcorder, clock radio, mobile telephone, and tape recorder. And while the ad didn’t include a compass, camera, barometer, altimeter, accelerometer, or GPS device, these too have vanished into the iPhone… Cichon’s find shows us that when thinking about their overall impact on the planet, it’s not helpful to think in isolation about producing 2 billion iPhones. Instead, we should think about a counterfactual: What would have been produced over the past 12 years in a smartphone-free world?
…Sales of point-and-shoot cameras, camcorders, film, and videotapes have plummeted in recent years, but that’s not because we stopped caring about pictures and videos. Instead, it’s because a device called the smartphone came along that let us dematerialize our consumption of these things… Why now? There are two causes [capitalism and technological progress]. The ever-more powerful and popular iPhone is the poster child for this progress, but the technologies of dematerialization are all over the place.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s iPhone allows us to get much more from much less and, in fact, obviously, Steve Jobs certainly did make quite the dent in our universe!