The Dictionary.com site defines an “aristocracy” in part as “a class of persons holding exceptional rank and privileges.”
Scanning the news recently, I got to wondering: Is Apple creating a new aristocracy?
Aristocrats are characterized by, among other things, desirable social privileges and conveniences, especially in transportation. In the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, aristocrats traveled in horse-drawn coach carriages. The riff-raff not only had to walk, but get off the road when an important person came along in a carriage. Travel has always been more convenient for aristocrats.
Cult of Mac reported back in April that Apple had filed a patent for an app called iTravel. (The patent was granted this week.) You can follow the links to read the details, but in a nutshell the app is a kind of “Easy-Pass” for air travel. While the hoi polloi queue up for check-in, security and boarding, the Apple aristocrats just stroll onto the plane.
Of course, aristocrats have to pay more for better travel services.
A recent report revealed that Orbitz routinely offers only higher-rate rooms to site visitors using Macs, as it found that Mac users typically spend more anyway.
This difference in hotels offered is not revealed to users. Visitors to Orbitz who use Macs simply live in a world in which hotels are better and more expensive.
Commerce in general has always been more convenient, too. While peasants and workers have had to contend with traveling peddlers and long lines, aristocrats have been able to send their servants to buy things and deal with all the hassles.
An analyst with Research Farm named Pablo Saez Gil believes Apple plans to enlist Bluetooth 4.0 in their long-predicted mobile wallet initiatives. The idea is to turn every store into an Apple store by enabling the purchase point-of-sale for Apple users to be anywhere in the store.
So while other customers wait in line at the register, Apple aristocrats just summon a store employee, process their payment wherever they are, and stroll out of the store.
Exclusive access to precious metals
Aristocrats have always had exclusive access to precious metals. Traditionally, these have usually been gold and silver. Their purpose is equal parts investment and status symbol.
Fast-forward to now, and some of our most precious metals are built into computers and consumer electronics devices.
One example is that the iPad is made from a special, high-quality aluminum that requires minerals from a mine in Australia — a source that Apple has acquired the exclusive rights to.
Another example is that an SEC filing reveals that Apple has acquired an exclusive license to use Liquidmetal metal alloys in consumer products.
Like gold and silver for yesterday’s aristocrats, today’s Apple aristocrats are the only people with access to the highest-grade aluminum and to Liquidmetal.
Aristocrats have always enjoyed special privileges about the privacy and security of their person. In aristocratic societies, for example, the police tend to have little hesitation stopping and searching the lower classes, while they wouldn’t dream of doing the same thing to the aristocrats.
We recently learned that Apple has been granted a patent probably invented at Novell, which provides disinformation to personal data-harvesting robots online.
Like the police in aristocratic countries, major tech companies want to know everything about you, track your every move and finding out what you buy. Apple’s patent would auto-generate alternative profiles on you, and pass along “junk data” to the harvesters, thus assuring your personal privacy.
Is Apple creating a new aristocracy? No, of course not. But reading the news lately, it sure looks that way!