iPhone Apps for the Greater Good?

, Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Part One of an Exciting Two-Part Series!

In this episode, we explore why iPhone and its applications are the Robot Devil.Robot Devil.

The iPhone, somewhat justifiably, gets a lot of criticism for being the downfall of Western civilization, the reason the U.S. is in a state of economic turmoil, the bane of Miro’s existance, and so on. Instead of putting our money in our 401(k), purchasing war bonds, or buying nutritious cans of condensed soup to feed our hungry children, many Americans are going out and spending money they don’t have on flat screen televisions, designer handbags, and sleek little phones that do tricks. What has our nation come to, you ask, when people nationwide camp out overnight or wait in the line that goes around the block to buy a phone?

Get your ire up below the fold…

Certainly, when the I Am Rich application came out, there was more than a little reason to raise one’s eyebrows. (Fortunately, and somewhat outrageously, the application sold to about 8 people before Apple pulled it out of the App Store in a cloud of rage 24 hours later.) For those of you who didn’t hear about the short-lived application, for the low low price of $999.99, you’d get an application that featured a glowing red screen, and the ability to prove to yourself and your friends that you’ve got money to burn. And nothing else.

And there are some applications that are… well, dumb. They tend to cost a pittance (usually 99 cents,) and be less blatantly egregious than I Am Rich, but they could still make you wonder what’s wrong with these crazy kids today and their crazy phones. For example, there is one Beaconfire employee, who shall remain nameless, who is more than happy to show off his iBeer application. There’s a virtual lighter, so you non-smokers can get into the groove at that next big concert you go to, when they sing that song about love and togetherness you so enjoy. There are slot machines with no payout. There’s a virtual lightsaber. It makes a pleasing “vhoosh” noise. (And according to this, over a million people have now downloaded it. Nerds!) There are thousands of ways for you to waste your time and rot your brain, and many of them are even free! I’ll confess to just last night having “purchased” a free air hockey game. After the spouse crushed me mercilessly thrice, I lost interest. There’s also the more standard Sisyphean fare that we’ve come to expect from our gadgets: poker, solitaire, Tetris, pong, Labyrinth, Othello, Pac-Man, jawbreaker… You get the idea. This phone can help you waste your time (and sometimes money) in just about anyway you can think of.

Long gone are the days of America’s youth killing time with a hoop and a stick, making friends in their neighborhood, being lovable and adorable scamps when they’re not saving up their nickles from their after-school job as a shoe-shiner so they can learn the value of a dollar. The current generation of children is living a virtual childhood, deprived of physical activity and meaningful interaction. Surely this new technology will destroy us all.

Or will it? Is there a possibility that smart organizations are using smart phones to help make us better people? A better society? Is this brave new world of technology actually going to be good for what ails us?

To get my take, tune in next week: Same Bat-time, same bat-channel. (Or, you know, whenever I get around to publishing the next installment of this exciting 2-part series.)

2 Responses to “iPhone Apps for the Greater Good?”

  1. JB Says:

    How many budding Bill Gates were lost to those infernal hoop-and-sticks? ;-)

  2. Jordan Says:

    I think it’s inevitable that organizations will tap into a way to integrate “social change/ goodwill applications” in the current technology. The Obama iPhone app is just a start to what we will begin to see in the coming years as these tools evolve. Moreover, it should be interesting to see if nonprofits can find a successful way to integrate fundraising and advocacy efforts in these types of applications. I’d be curious to see if anyone is working on such a thing now…