Sweetening the deal with a ‘honey’

Microsoft offers PC users $100 to upgrade

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. April 1, 2014

Marketing ploys by big name companies are nothing uncommon. We get coupons, discounts, and bargains all the time—if we look for them. So it seems that Microsoft’s recent incentive for consumers is nothing to go crazy about, right? Right. In fact, their $100 store credit seems more like  bait than a real great deal.

Until June 15, Microsoft will be offering current Windows XP users a $100 discount to upgrade to the new Windows 8.1 computer. In other words, Microsoft wants users to continue spending money on their new products instead of riding out their old ones.

This marketing strategy is similar to their console-war strategy earlier this year, when the PlayStation 4 was duking it out with the Xbox One for gaming supremacy. PlayStation owners can go to a Microsoft dealership and exchange their PS4 for a Xbox One and receive a $100 off. For financially strapped individuals, this may sound like a great deal, but on a closer look, you’ll realize that you would just be paying roughly the same amount for the Xbox One as you had for a PS4 (approximately $500).

We often shun and make fun of those who have inferior technology, as if high-end and new electronics are a status symbol worthy of pride. Computers are built to break, like cellphones, automobiles, and microwaves. Yet, computers are one of those things where we, as a society, don’t say, “If it ain’t broke… yadda yadda!”

Right now, my iPhone is telling me to update my software, while my MacBook Pro is informing me that there is a new OS X update available (whatever that means). I don’t want to update. I updated last week, last month, last year—just let me use my computer without forcing me to restart it. It’s not broken; you don’t need to fix it!

Know this: it’s not worth keeping pace with such minor advancements when we live in a world where today’s state-of-the-art technology is tomorrow’s laughable artifact. There will always be a newer version of whatever.

Don’t be swayed to pay extra fees to upgrade, unless it’s something you actually want, it’s at your convenience, or it’s absolutely necessary. We all want the newest version of whatever, and we all want the top-of-the-line products in our house, but purchasing blindly, just because it’s financially appealing, is not the right move.

Microsoft wants to tell you that your old computer is out of fashion. Well, Microsoft doesn’t understand that we aren’t all crazy about the latest updates and computers—we just need them to be working properly. Sure, the $100 is a nice thank you for your loyalty and that should be commended. But why not just offer that $100 into improving what is already working instead of forcing the user to buy a new $599 to $2,299 computer?

The new Windows 8.1 might be newer and shinier, but after 13 years of using the same operating system, you can’t just lure consumers out with a little bribe.

Committed incorporated

Image from dockforiphone.com

Formerly published in The Other Press. Mar. 19 2013

Our questionable loyalty to businesses, products, and corporations

By Elliot Chan, Staff Writer

“Don’t buy lamps at IKEA,” my friend once told me. “It will look lonely in your house.”

I didn’t understand her profound statement or the personification immediately, but I soon understood. The lamp I had purchased looked out of place, awkwardly positioned in the corner of my room—yes, lonely. That was until I bought an IKEA desk and an IKEA chair to befriend it. Now my room doesn’t look half bad; far from the photogenic images in the flyers and brochures, but still respectable. Like dressing up in a suit and tie, my room, although furnished and appearing well-to-do, now lacks personality, originality, or any charm whatsoever. And it all started with a lamp.

Some advocate for companies the way we cheer for sport teams. Others are simply addicted. Over the years, I have developed a tight bond with Apple products. The story began with my first iPod, a green second-generation iPod Shuffle. I resisted the lure for many years, even though I was bombarded with advertising and recommendations. I had to find out first-hand whether or not it was a quality product, and although I have had MP3 players in the past, I now have an iPod. I was hooked. Several years later, I came upon familiar crossroads when the contract for my flip phone ended and I was due for a new one. I had all the choices in the world, but I went with old faithful: Apple. I once had a phone, but now I have an iPhone, and something tells me I will never have anything but. After all, it syncs so well with my MacBook Pro.

I’ve joined the herd shepherded by the big corporations, but is that such a bad thing? I know people who only order coffee from Starbucks and I know people who boycott it completely. Are loyalty or disdain for a company reasonable? We are creatures of habit and we find comfort in knowing that some things will always be there for us. There’s so much turbulence in our lives that it’s good to have some stability somewhere, even if it’s just sticking with Crest as the toothpaste of choice.

But it’s important to know that there’s a vast world out there. The only way for anyone to know what their preferences are is to try as many things as possible, and there are few mistakes more regrettable than settling. Exploration does not have to be an epic adventure. It can be as simple as making a different choice, such as ordering soup instead of salad, driving a Nissan instead of a Toyota, or shopping at Superstore instead of Safeway. Corporations, as evil and corrupt as they are, are still out to please you, so don’t be intimidated; embrace it.

Having a trustworthy, reliable brand is fantastic. In this materialistic world, life is not only about relationships between people, but also between consumers and corporations; when one finds the other, it is a true love story.