The Scourge of Clickbait

True story: we have a contractor who’s been doing work on our house, on and off, for the past few months. Great guy — gregarious, honest, good at his work. He has a rough idea of what I do. (“Sort of like a sports columnist but for Apple and design stuff” is my usual answer). He broke his iPhone (a bad drop, took it to a third-party repair center, made worse) a few weeks ago and has since then been getting by with an old Android phone that he despises. I knew something happened when his texts turned green, but he’s the one who brought it up in conversation. He’s on the fence between buying an iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. I’ve been fascinated by his dilemma. It seems to me that if Apple had only released one or the other, he’d have already bought a new one weeks ago. (My advice, because of course he asked and I was glad to answer, however unhelpfully: “I really love the X but whether you’d find it worth an extra $200, I can’t say. You should go talk to the folks at the Apple Store, they’re good at this, and because they don’t work on commission, they don’t just blindly tell everyone to get the most expensive phone.”) I’ve long been a proponent of the notion that in almost all decisions, there’s the implicit option to choose nothing at all, and the harder a decision is to make, the more likely it is that someone will choose nothing, out of indecision and/or confusion. It’s the job of designers to make decisions easier, or many times, to make decisions for the user. I’m not at all saying it was a mistake for Apple to release the iPhones 8 and iPhone X at the same time — the crux of my iPhone X review is that the familiarity of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus is what freed Apple to change fundamental aspects of the iPhone experience with the iPhone X — but it really does seem like the choice is difficult for many people.

Anyway, he was here today, and asked me “Hey, what’s up with this thing I saw yesterday that Apple is cancelling the iPhone X? Is that for real?”1

  1. He pronounced it ex, of course↩︎