Steve Jobs - AP - February 2012
Steve Jobs changed the world. Because of him, ordinary mortals can no longer replace a battery in a simple gadget by themselves. Photo by AP
Text size

I want to talk to you about batteries. I know, it's a bit strange to devote an entire column to batteries when they are shooting in Syria, the Iranians are attacking, and the education system is in the pits. But still, let's speak for a moment about batteries.

Batteries are a kind of technological wonder. They make it possible for us to go everywhere with a contraption that requires a decent amount of electricity to function. Look at all the electronic devices you have, that are not connected to a wall socket. Every one of them has some kind of battery. It is not by chance that one of the things that can be found in almost every house is a packet of batteries. Batteries, my friends, are the rock of our mobile existence.

There are batteries in our cellular phones too. At first they were very heavy and did not last for more than a few short telephone calls. But over time they became small and strong. Just as there are no skyscrapers without elevators, so there are no cellular telephones without inventions and developments in the field of batteries that make it possible for us to leave the house and deal, fearlessly with the outside world.

But despite all the progress in the world of cellphone batteries, they too become worn out. They do not charge the way they should, they run out quickly, and in short, they have to be exchanged for new ones from time to time.

Until recently, when a battery was empty, you would go to a store that deals with important things like this, inform the shopkeeper what model you needed and he would open a drawer and take out a battery, and that would be the end of it. But that was when Steve Jobs entered the picture.

The batteries in an iPhone are not the kind of batteries that it's possible to change. That is to say, it is possible to change them, but we regular mortals - who are not equipped with special screwdrivers that were specially designed for special screws that close the iPhone, half of which has to be dismantled in order to change a battery - are not able to change them. When the battery in our iPhone is used up, we need to go to a lab. In the lab, they give us a grim look and instruct us to leave the telephone overnight (at least). What was a simple, daily practice in the past, which didn't require technical skill, has been nationalized by Apple. And we, the bleating and lost lambs, nodded in agreement.

Some people might say that it's not possible to produce telephones that are so thin without paying a price - and the price is saying goodbye to the possibility of changing a battery alone. What utter rubbish! A person who buys an iPhone must know that he is buying himself a one-way ticket into a world of paranoia, restrictions and prohibitions on the part of Apple that turns the users into people who wander around with chargers in their car, purse, home, and workplace.

All of us know people like that, they move among us. These are people who exchanged mobility for coolness, who submitted to the caprices of a power-hungry company. I belong to that group and I've had enough. I have sworn to myself that I'll be the one to pull the battery out of my next mobile telephone.

 

Dr. Dror is head of the Digital Communication track at the College of Management's School of Communications.