The upgrade treadmill
New Yorkers camped out for days to get the iPhone 5.
September 21st, 2012
10:39 AM ET

The upgrade treadmill

By Edgar Treiguts, CNN

Editor's note: This story is part of the CNN series, "Our Mobile Society," about how smartphones and tablets have changed the way we live.

(CNN) - The mobile technology evolution has hit a fever pitch in recent years.

It seems every few months, consumers have new or upgraded devices to consider in the marketplace.

In just the last couple of weeks, Apple and Amazon have unveiled their newest and improved gadgets.

And 31-year-old Raymond Fulton can't wait to buy-in:

[:35] "I normally replace every year. I have to. Everything. Sometimes twice a year on the phones."

For Fulton, that means updating his Android phone, along with a tablet and two laptop computers.

Tech companies love people like Fulton who must have the latest gadgets as soon as they come out.

Increasingly though, people who usually sit on the sidelines when new devices are released are finding them harder to resist.

Technology's rapid advance, and its saturation of our lives, is changing how we view the devices and when we buy them.

Ryan Hamilton teaches marketing and consumer behavior at Emory University in Atlanta. He says for many consumers, it's become a human rights issue:

[5:44] "People need this almost to survive. People talk the same way about cable television, where this has become a fundamental need of functioning in society. In a way where people used to talk about food and access to clean water."

From a 'need' to a 'want'. From 'what's new' to 'when to buy.' Things may never be the same for consumers and technology.

Listen to the complete story above and join the conversation below.

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Jnae

    Thanks, I found this:


    September 23, 2012 at 5:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Jnae

      This is the link

      September 23, 2012 at 5:58 am | Report abuse |
  2. OJsimpsonsghost

    "People need this almost to survive." Gross.

    September 23, 2012 at 2:41 am | Report abuse |
    • hahaha

      I'm 36, don't have a cell phone and have no plans to get one. What's wrong with people?

      September 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      @hahaha, well when you have a real job having a cell phone is a requirment

      September 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ray

    The phone upgrade doesn't even come close to the automobile upgrade that occurs EVERY year.

    September 23, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
    • rhobere

      what car manufacturer are you talking about? Most have a 5 year model life which usually includes a mid-model upgrade where they add a feature or two and maybe change the rims. But I've never heard of an auto maker redesigning every year.

      September 24, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. maggie

    Cable tv is not a need. I've survived just fine without it for years.

    September 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Roberto

    Oy Vey, Maria! Wait a few months and the iPhone 10 will be out. You'll get tweets from God and be able to converse with the dead.

    September 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Quick


      September 22, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • OJsimpsonsghost

      Siri is the virgin Mary

      September 23, 2012 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
      • a_chan11

        LOL who can't get anything right

        September 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ryan

    Not to mention the courts have screwed the playing field for microsoft. Throwing court cases at them for having their own browser on their own OS, but apple can do it without question.

    September 22, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      What are you talking about? I can download Firefox right now on my Iphone 4

      September 22, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • hawkechik

        Maybe so, but can you download iTunes on your Android?

        September 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
        • sbstr

          I believe the right question is, can you download googleplay or Amazon marketplace on iPhone? Can you buy iPhone/ipad compatible apps and books from a non iTunes store if they offer better pricing? You cannot, and that is problem. You do not have a choice. In fact, on newer macs you can only buy some software via their App store.

          September 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Capt. Obvious

    i SWEAR CNN owns Apple stock. Regardless of how petty the Apple news, CNN reports it EVERY SINGLE DAY! No other tech company gets as much attention from CNN editors as Apple.

    September 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      its just no one cares about other phones.. apple articles get the haters and the lovers. when an android phone comes out other then a few people on this forum. no one cares ! thats why!

      September 22, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Apple is what every American company should be....#1 in the field in which it operates. Why wouldn't CNN post articles about this company?

      September 22, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • maggie

      I agree. I'm a die-hard mac / apple person, but this CNN stuff is stupid. Like apple itself is a celebrity or something....

      September 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jegelkrout

    In the mid-1990's Apple was all but dead. Microsoft had "won" the war. It's interesting to see how things have changed. The I-Phone alone is bigger than Microsoft.

    September 22, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joe

    I think you forgot Microsoft in the mix. With multiple Windows Phone 8 devices announced in the last two weeks it's funny to see it totally ignored in a tech blog. I am not biased towards any product in particular (I have an iPad, Android phone, Wndows 7 computer) it's just poor reporting, in my opinion, to leave MS off the list of companies announcing/delivering big gadgets)

    September 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |