News: Why Steampunks Shouldn't Buy iPhones

Why Steampunks Shouldn't Buy iPhones

This may seem like an odd subject, because what do Steampunks and iPhones even have to do with each other? Actually, more than you might think!

With the recent release of iOS 6 and the iPhone 5, I thought it was time to show how they relate to Steampunk.

Photo by Robert S. Donovan

Apple, as a company, is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of Steampunk, and that opposing philosophy is embodied by the iPhone in a number of ways, which I'll lay out for you below.

1. The Walled Garden

You may have heard of Apple's App Store being described as a walled garden, which means that they have strict control over what plants grow, so to speak. In reality, they imposed fairly strict regulations on what apps can be sold through their App Store. In many ways, this creates an unfair market as some products can thrive in spite of being inferior to other options.

Image via digitaltrends.com

Logo image from DigitalTrends

This idea of an unfair business environment is opposite to the individual-inventor aspect of Steampunk.

Even if you "jailbreak" your iPhone, that's still against the philosophy of Apple, and they make it as hard as possible for you to do so. While that is their prerogative and arguably legal for them to do, it still runs counter to the ideology of Steampunk.

2. The Sealed Case

The iPhone was revolutionary in cell phones in that it had a completely sealed case. This meant no changing the battery, no tinkering, no nothing. Taking such drastic measures to keep customers out of their own devices runs contrary to the idea of being able to use your own products however you'd like.

In fact, part of what drives most Steampunk props is the idea of repurposing and tinkering with pre-made goods, neither of which can be done to the iPhone without destroying it.

Image from Digitized Society

3. The Minimalist Design

Steampunk is literally the polar opposite of the sleek, minimalist iPhone design. I suppose you could call Steampunk "maximalist" if it were a real word, though the proper term might be somewhere along the lines of "ornate". Many people find Steampunk aesthetically pleasing exactly because it's the opposite of "iCulture"; that is, the mainstream popularity of things that are simple.

Photo from GW Repair

That's why so many people want to purchase cool-looking cases, or etch art onto the back, or even make a DIY amp, because the iPhone itself is bland and generic.

Image via staticflickr.com

Photos from Steampunk Costume, Schramm, Gadgetsin

A Steampunk who buys an iPhone will almost certainly want to alter it to suit their aesthetic sensibilities, but Apple doesn't want them to. Judging by points 1 and 2 above (as well as many press releases by Apple), Apple wants you to enjoy their product only how they want you to enjoy it, and not any other way. That's not how Steampunks see the world.

While Android phones aren't necessarily any better, the lack of a single governing organization allows much more freedom of choice and individualization. At the very least, you can take most of the Android devices apart for easier altering of the case.

Photo by iRetrofone

No matter how Steampunk you make your iPhone look, it doesn't change how inherently anti-Steampunk it is. So if you're thinking of buying a phone and all else is equal, consider endorsing a brand that's more supportive of individuality, self-expression, and fairness.

5 Comments

Yeah, I've been following the iP5 specs and capabilities as they've been coming out, but I'm still not very impressed. These phones aren't meant for the average person to open them up or fix them, which of course makes for a handy little niche market for the Apples Stores.

The fact remains that Apple doesn't want you inside their phones, either in terms of hardware or software.

Thanks for the comment, though! That may be helpful to people who already have iPhone 5's. =)

I have always hated apple's do it our way because we say so mentality.

Yeah, I totally agree. I bought the first iPhone, because it was like magic, and was far beyond its competitors. However, after using it for a little while, I got really, really tired of their walled garden.

Since then, I've used Android phones.

To bring this article up-to-date (and to reinforce the OP's point even further), anyone heard of "error 53"?

Read this to see how Apple's iOS 9 update has "bricked" numerous peoples phones, just because they didn't get them repaired at an Apple store.

I've never had an Apple device, and can't see the point in paying a lot of money for something that is less functional and out of date (hardware-wise) compared to the Android equivalents. Numerous people at work who have had iPhone's for years have now gone over to Android phones, and the majority think they are far better! :)

Share Your Thoughts

  • Hot
  • Latest