How U-Mobile and Google managed to vanish a chunk of my revenue to Apple and Amazon

I’m so sick and tired of spending money on device updates. I know it’s a norm in a good part of the world and in certain income brackets to be a part of the replacement economy where products build in obsolescence. So it was a sad day when Google dropped the Ara project which aimed for a modular phone construction. Ara’s death (or hopefully suspension) wasn’t because the concept was bad or that it wouldn’t fly in the marketplace but because the new-economy oldtimer was thinking too much about profits to moon shoot the smart device market.

Ara would have been a cool reality because it would have raised the staying power of design and material costs that are thrown away with every phone upgrade. The current vicious consumption cycle is like throwing entire cars away when all you want is a few pistons replaced. Ara, in fact, offered the potential of an engine upgrade, forever obviating the need to ever buying whole cars (phones) again. It would have been an exciting world.

So I’ve been duct-taping a hand-me-down iPhone 4s for way more years than its shelf life permits. You can call me a cheapskate but I call it escaping the corporate industrial complex. I finally called it a day when bits of glass from the phone screen started cutting my hand and creating blood spots on my white shirts. The iPhone SE was what I settled on because I read it gave the most bang for the technological buck.

But this is a story about how Google is still doing moonshots and saving us (me) from what would have otherwise been an Apple or Amazon entrapment. You see, the iPhone 5SE comes with only two models: the 16GB which costs RM1,949 and the 64GB which costs RM2,199. But with the U Mobile i60 plan, the respective subsidised prices are RM1,305 and RM1,730. Getting the 16GB through U Mobile saved me RM644 off the retail price (about 30 home-cooked steak meals or 7.5 months of steak meals if you had steaks once a week) but more than that, eschewing the 64GB under the same plan saved me RM425 (5 months’ worth of steak meals).

Can you live with 48GB less storage on your phone? Yes, you can because the biggest space consumer on the phone are not apps. The most-used core apps don’t take up a lot of space. The smartphone’s most voracious space consumers are photos and videos, and this is where Google is the savior because Google Photos allows for unlimited photo and video storage with automatic backup, allowing you to permanently delete locally stored photos whenever your phone gets filled up. This same service enabled me even to kill the same Amazon service which cost US$5 a month.

The real question is, with cloud-based everything, why am I even still part of the Apple ecosystem?

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