Why is it that so many people I talk to on a daily basis insist that they need the newest smartphone the moment it’s announced? I, too, am an admitted card-carrying member of the early adopter club, but upon taking a step back and looking at the state of things, I’ve come to realize that we’ve grown to expect too much of our devices.

Yes, you should expect your device to work for you from the day you buy it until the day you replace it. The marketing teams at companies like Apple, Microsoft, and even Google would have you think that you need whatever it is they’ve built because it’s leaps and bounds beyond anything they’ve ever designed before. It’s that inherent need these brilliant marketing bodies have created that cause us the most harm when all is said and done.

I switched from iOS to Android about a year ago, and every time Apple does a keynote I find myself regretting that decision because the things the new iPhone or iPad do look absolutely magical. Likewise, the latest Nexus phone (Nexus 4) is a stunning piece of architecture that has many Android fans drooling (quite literally in some cases) as they eagerly await the day when they’ll have such an amazing phone in their pocket.

But really, do you need a new smartphone? Didn’t you buy the Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S III, or iPhone 4S a little less than a year ago? Why do we feel the need to spend mass quantities of our hard-earned money on hardware updates that (at best) only offer a small boost in performance and functionality?

I’ll admit that I was jealous of my wife when she picked up the iPhone 4S shortly after it came to market. Siri looked great, but it wasn’t long before the honeymoon period ended and Siri became just another bloated, useless feature on what is really just a small step up from the iPhone 4.

No matter how good these things look during the keynotes, the boost you’ll get inside of one year is marginal at best. I’m sitting at a desk right now with an LG Optimus G (running the same hardware as the Nexus 4) and my trusty Galaxy Nexus. One of these phones is on loan from LG, and I admittedly want one. Truth be told, I could get along just fine with the Galaxy Nexus for at least another year. It does everything I need a phone to do, and it cost me a lot less than the Optimus G would in the interim.

How do we learn to control our wants?

That’s the question behind almost every conversation I’ve had with readers when I write about a gadget that just came to market. It isn’t so much why is this worth buying, or why isn’t it. It comes down to why it’s so difficult for most people to control their wants. We wanted the Surface when Microsoft announced it. We were let down when it turned out to be a fairly lackluster user experience tied to an aesthetically impressive piece of so-so performing hardware. Were we throwing our money at the screen and demanding that Microsoft take our money and give us one? Yes.

This is the game these multinational corporations have learned to play better than any other. Apple is perhaps the best at this game, and that’s why it’s worth more than any other company in the world right now. It found a way to take control of our wants, and make them seem more like needs.

Advertisers look at every possible scientific angle they can to find a way to target our very nature and make us crave whatever it is they’re selling. Have you ever wondered why diapers and feminine hygiene products are demonstrated with a light blue liquid? This is because blue is a calming and pleasing color to most people. The liquid could be green or even purple, but it’s blue for a reason.

Politicians are also great examples of this marketing genius. Polls are taken, committees have meetings, and focus groups are tested regularly to answer questions surrounding the color of a politician’s tie or the way someone parts their hair. This information is used to great effect in the political world. It isn’t an accident that candidates wear ties that match the state flag or team colors of the local college. They do this because it has an effect on us.

How do you control your wants? Your guess is as good as mine, but think about this the next time you see a commercial for a new phone and decide right there and then that you have to have one. Do you really, or are you being played by science?

Image: Google