Experience Is The New Gadget

Every few years or so, Apple comes out with a new gadget, and competitors flock to rip it off to compete in the marketplace.  The reason that the iPad and iPhone have been such massive successes is not because of their new, wiz-bang gizmo…it’s because of the experience that people get when they interact with that gizmo.  Love it or hate it, Apple has the smoothest, most reliable user interface on the planet.  You can’t trip up an iPad even with multiple apps open, whereas my (first-gen) Samsung Galaxy got a wireless version 2.0 upgrade and would freeze up just making a phone call. Not only that, Apple products feel expensive, and elevate the user’s social status by having them.  Image

In any case, the consumer market will shift more toward experiences in the near future, as technological advances happen more and more frequently and people begin to become unimpressed by them.  Truthfully though, experiences are what life is about, not gadgets. 

Think about it.  You’ve been chasing them all along.

When I was 8 years old, I absolutely relished the first ride I ever had in a small plane.  When I was 18, one of my friends asked me, “What could possibly possess you to dive into a puddle while it’s 38 degrees out?”  When I was 22, my Aunt Lori (a dental hygienist), asked me, “What would make you want to get your tongue pierced?”  When I was 24, my Dad saw my tattoo for the first time from afar, and yelled, “What is that?!” at me from down the hall.  Even now, at 31, my wife tells me that entering a room full of people she doesn’t know is “my version of hell.”


Our dog, Kilee. She’s about 2 years old here.

Each of these things has given me an experience.  Good or bad, it’s given me a story to tell, a way to connect with others who have experienced the same thing.  If I meet a person who is shy or averse to meeting new people, I have an idea of what their boundaries are likely to be, given that my wife is the same way.  I can relate to someone who is describing the pain of getting a piercing or a tattoo, or someone describing the freedom of the wind in your face on a motorcycle, or the visceral feeling of leaving the ground during the miracle of flight while you are in control of the airplane.  I know the absolute exhaustion that comes from working 12-hour overnight shifts, and drinking at 7am on your Friday (which is actually Wednesday morning) to blow off steam after work.  I know the familiar burn of cigarette smoke entering my lungs, and I understand the jokes that old guys make about it burning when they pee because of kidney stones.  I understand the frustration that comes from a new dog entering your household.  I know the feeling of control someone has over a vehicle that has a manual transmission, and I know the sheer, effortless beauty of my wife in the morning.

It’s the same reason you ride roller coasters, go on reality TV shows, train to climb Everest, or move out of your parents’ house:  you want to know what it’s like on the other side, or at the top.  It’s life’s experiences that make you a rich person, not the amount of money you have…but if you are someone who knows the feeling of paying cash for a quarter-million dollar car, you also have a unique experience with which to share.  The saying, “The first million is the hardest” wasn’t coined by a homeless guy, after all.  Anything to relate to those around you.  Networking is the engine of the world, and experiences give you the fuel.

I think you’ll see a rise in experience-based products and services in the next ten years, particularly for the upwardly mobile.  There are already several hundred seats booked for the first flights into space, once they become available, and they aren’t cheap.

For ideas to chase your next awesome experience, check out my friends over at Bucket List Publications.  They’ve got fantastic ideas, if you are in need.  If you aren’t, they have a contest going to see who has the Biggest, Baddest Bucket List around, and you can submit your own to win a chance to actually complete it.  

What’s on your bucket list?  What would you do if money was no object?  What would you do if you could not fail at it?  What have you been aching to do for years, but put off because you “just can’t afford it?”  Also, what things have you knocked off your Bucket List that were awesome?


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