The iPhone Challenge

by Dion Oxford

Well, it looks as though the long awaited iPhone will finally be making its way to Canada.

Oh joy. Oh bliss. The saviour has finally come (tongue is now firmly planted in cheek).

How did we manage before its long awaited arrival? We had to carry our bulky iPods, PDA’s, and phones as separate entities. One doesn’t have enough pockets in one outfit to be able to safely and conveniantly handle all of those toys.

But thankfully, those days are over. Our troubles have been taken from us. We thought the Blackberry was the Redeemer but Mac is truly the King.

So when iIheard the announcement, out of curiosity I went online to find out how much the thing will cost.
The first thing that I realized was that finding out pricing online was going to be quite the challenge. I’m still pretty inept at finding exactly where I want to go when I do Google searches, but I did surf quite a few sites before I could find the slightest hint of its cost

The fact is, the advertisers were adamant that I read every possible spec of this thing in hopes that I’d be completely swept away by its majesty that no matter how much they wanted for it, it wouldn’t be too much.

(I must admit, I love this toy. it truly is amazing and has all of the things I like on it. Were I someone to give in to the whims of the doomsday prophet ad-man, he’d have me by the short and curlys on this one)

After too much time online, I think I figured out the pricing. Rogers will be the sole provider in Canada (monopoly?). You can get the 8G iPhone for the low price of $199 or the 16G iPhone for just $299. Oh, did I mention you need to sign your life away for three years on top of that? No other options available.

Then there’s the monthly fees that you commit to paying for those next 3 years (with the occasional letter from Rogers telling you that they’ll be generously raising your prices so they can better serve you). $69 + applicable taxes and random arbitrary fees per month for voice services. Then $20 + applicable taxes and random arbitrary fees for data. so $89 + … per month; for THREE years. So this inexpensive toy will run each user in the course of three years over $4000.

What else might $4000 pay for?

  • It would cover close to 2000 meals in the shelter I work at for folks who live on the street
  • If you don’t believe that people locally need to be going hungry and don’t deserve your charity then
  • It would allow you to sponsor 3 children per month for three years through World Vision
  • It could purchase 50 school kits per month through the Mennonite Central Committee, each school kit helps one child in Bangladesh get through school for one year
  • It could provide the necessary labour and materials needed to provide 10 families the clean drinking water they need for the rest of their lives, for THREE years totalling 360 familes.

Or, you could buy a toy that you will fill a void in you for a few weeks or months until you grow tired of it and feel empty again or until someone makes a better toy.

I think i’m feeling grumpy about this. Forgive me for sounding pious, but the world is falling apart and we need to stop being seduced by the man and start waking up to the needs of people who are dying all around us.

Dion Oxford

14 Responses to “The iPhone Challenge”

  1. Why I Won’t Be Buying an iPhone | Hugh Hollowell

    […] two posts do a much better job than I ever could explaining the disconnect I feel, and why I will not […]

  2. ryan guard

    you’ve got my vote on this one.

  3. Sue

    I’ve had an iPhone (paid for by work) since December 2007 (I live in the US), and assuming I have a choice in the matter I wouldn’t go back to a regular phone. Not because it’s a toy, but because it’s really useful to have the internet, my email, Google maps in my pocket.

    Some of the price arguments above are valid, sure, but aren’t confined to iPhones — but how you spend your money in general.

    Anyhow, my two cents. I like my iPhone, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

  4. Matt

    By your reasoning, you might as well NEVER buy anything nice / unnecessary for yourself, and donate everything extra to charity, or to sponsor a kid around the world. You go out to the movies twice a month? That’s $40/month, or $440 a year. Why would you do that instead of giving it all away???!!!1

    Seriously, do you give all your extra money away? No? Then stop being so holier-than-thou.

  5. sonja

    HAH! You get it cheap in Canada … in the US we pay $70 per month for honor of using the phone and $30 per month to the monopolizer (AT&T) for data.

    You do make some good arguments. OTOH …

    As Sue says, we all make choices about how we spend our money. We cannot possibly spend it all on the poor. But we can make choices that reflect righteous, just and merciful decisions … and perhaps an iPhone falls in that range for some and not others. Who is to know?

  6. Brian

    I think that I need to reply to Matt on this one. First off, you really don’t know who you are talking to here. I don’t need to defend Dion Oxford, but we are talking about someone who runs the best homeless shelter in Toronto (and that’s the word on the street!), and who has laid his life on the line for the poorest of the poor in our society. [I can feel Dion blushing as I write this.] But perhaps more importantly, I’d be curious to know, Matt, what reasoning you would use to decide whether to buy into any particular new piece of technology. Sue and Sonja are right. We all make choices, and some technology can indeed enhance life in the Kingdom. But what criteria do we use? How do we apply that criteria? And is every decision to not buy into something, and every argument that raises questions about the just stewardship of resources, by definition a ‘holier than thou’ attitude? I don’t think so, and I think, Matt, that the issues that both Andrew and Dion raise are way too important for such a dismissal.

  7. David

    I wonder how many jobs are provided by the Iphone to those same people you are providing free food, water, clothing & shelter to. Paying for goods/services that create and sustain jobs is better, and more humanitarian, than giving money away. Lets help the poor by perpetuating a system that gives both them and us jobs. There is no reason why everybody can’t have an iPhone.

  8. Eddie

    It is a holier than thou attitude when it makes assumptions about people who may happen to buy an iphone. The attitude of the post is one of arrogance that anyone who buys one is not a good steward of their money. How do you know that the person who is carrying the iphone did not donate hundreds, thousands or millions to charity. How do you know that they are not donating time to work in soup kitchens, shut in aids patients, or holding drug addicted babies on the weekend.

    Now unless Dion actually owns nothing in this world than one can make the argument that he is not being a good steward with his money. Has he ever gone out to eat, see a movie, go to a hockey game. Has he never gone away on vacation, has he ever bought a book, computer, or anything for that matter….If he has and is condemning others for buying an iphone then this posts smacks of a definite holier than thou attitude.

  9. andrew

    Eddie – I suspect that the question is actually not one of charity at all, but rather a question of justice. It’s a question of justice where the iPhone is emblematic of the alarming disparity between rich and poor.

    Because it’s not just about charity. It’s about how we live our whole lives. It’s about how our lives are balanced against the lives of those around us. You’re right. All of us are implicated in the world’s injustice.

    But that doesn’t excuse us from turning a blind eye.

    Rather, it should stir us up, and spur us on to seek the good of others before our own good, all the while knowing that there’s always more that we can do individually and corporately.

  10. » Archive » The iPhone Challenge

    […] Oxford from the Gateway in Toronto, has an amazing post about the iPhone and the amount of social change you could make rather than paying Roger’s $4000 over the next […]

  11. » Blog Archive » The Cult of Cool

    […] one of the new 3G iPhones that are now in Canada.  The answer is no I don’t.  I agree with Dion Oxbridge’s writing on the iPhone.  I don’t even have a iPod Touch.  I have purchased three of them and returned them before […]

  12. Dion Oxford

    Hi all,
    I just realized that my post was here on this site so haven’t been aware of the conversation.
    I’m so glad it’s sparked a good online chat.
    I appreciate the support (thanks Brian and Andrew and the rest of you) and the mostly constructive criticisms as well. It is true that I occassionally eat out and that I like to go to movies. I also like stuff and am easily wooed by neat things. I also, as I admit to in my piece, really like the i-phone and would have one if my conscience didn’t get the better of me.
    The fact is though, I do belive that we (we includes me) live in a world where we continue to get duped into rationalizing our ongoing wastes of money on things we truly don’t need. We keep being told by the ad-man what to buy, how to dress, what to eat, what to watch, how to think, who to fear, how to vote, who to worship… and we keep letting it happen to us. For me, the process is to try and live life more simply each day and to daily attempt to uncover when I am being duped and try and respond by not buying everything I want, by eating at home more, by not bowing to the conveniances that the market is constantly raping my head with. As I’ve moved more towards this, I realize how much money I do have over and above what I need and how much more I can give away and truly how much more joy I have in my life as a result.

    This piece was a challenge to me as well as to the reader . The i-phone is the most successful ad campaign in recent years and is merely the item I used to illistrate my point. Yes, you can look at me and certainly conclude that I am a hypocrite. Believe me, you can’t be any harder on me than I am on myself. But more importantly, look at yourselves and ask what this challenge might mean to you. Don’t rationalize your own misuse of money by looking at me; at the end of the day that just won’t cut it.

  13. iPhoned

    […] that could do a whole lot more good elsewhere. Smarter folks than I have been writing about this – first on the Gateway blog, then repeated on Resonate, and then picked up by the Toronto Sun. What would 3 years of an iPhone […]


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