Cognitive Bias and the iPhone 5

I really didn’t want to post anything about the launch of the iPhone 5. The internet is already awash with opinion and conjecture, covering almost every conceivable angle.

However, I have succumbed.

Watch the embedded video below from the Jimmy Kimmel show in the US. People on the streets are asked to take a look at the new iPhone 5 and offer some thoughts.

What they don’t know is that they’ve been given an iPhone 4S.

In less than 2 minutes, this clip demonstrates perfectly the power of marketing and branding over the spec-pissing contest that has invaded the smartphone industry. Can consumers really perceive the incremental improvements of a slightly faster processor or improved screen, or are they simply falling foul to a classic case of Cognitive Bias and a need to conform?

They believe what they want to believe and Cognitive Bias explains the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their beliefs and promotes conformity.

Saturated by media coverage, each interviewee has an expectation of the new iPhone 5 (it’s lighter, bigger, faster) and a belief in Apple. However, their interaction with what they believe is the iPhone 5 is entirely illusory. Some interviewees even pull out their own iPhone 4S for a direct comparison and remain convinced they can feel a weight difference or perceive a speed difference.

Of course, this piece was recorded as a piece of light entertainment, but it’s actually the start of a rather fascinating social experiment and an insight into the ability of consumers to perceive incremental technological improvements.

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