The psychology of iPhone buying is such that people will want the gold iPhone and Apple knows that, which is why it's no surprise that the iPhone's newest color is already in short supply after less than a day of sales. "I want the gold one and everyone wants the gold one," the eighth person in line at New York's Fifth Avenue store told ABC News Friday morning. Unlike the other colors, the shipping date for the blingiest iPhone has already been pushed to October in the U.S.. And, gold is so popular in China, Apple has reportedly increased production of the models to meet demand. "I don't care what's inside the device," Lian Jiyu, who was waiting in line at a Beijing Apple store, told The Wall Street Journal's Ian Sherr. "Chinese people like gold."
The gold iPhone has the same exact insides as the space grey and white models. It doesn't have any additional gold-related functions, nor is it not overwhelmingly better looking than the other two colors. Some people "adore" the look and it's certainly not as "tacky" as tech pundits anticipated, but in general, it looks just like the other two. Yet, there's a clearly more excitement about the gold one than other two.
That's because the desire goes beyond aesthetics. When going into the Apple store this first day of sales, consumers want to pick a phone that will make them unique, Sheena Iyengar, author of the best selling book The Art Of Choosing, explained in this Business Insider video. "You think white will be less frequently chosen," she said back when Apple had increased the color palate to include white. "I must be different." So, when going into the Apple store this morning, people figure that the least conventional choice — gold — will also prove less popular. So, they pick that.
Of course, it sounds pretty ridiculous, there are only three color choices for a phone that millions of people will buy: Even if you pick the least popular color, you will look exactly like lots of other people. That's partly the power of consumer psychology. "Color is one of the most visually distinctive - and personal - things about a new iPhone, which makes it one of the most important choices you'll have to make," wrote, in all seriousness, iMore's Rene Ritchie.
But there's another force at play: "Shownership," a phenomenon described by Jenna Wortham over at Bits blog. "I want people to know that this is a new phone," an aspiring owner of an iPhone 5C, which comes in a rainbow of colors, told her. The gold plumage signals the latest technology, whereas the other colors look nearly identical to last year's model. "Apple isn’t just about ownership — it’s about shownership, and inspiring desire and jealousy in those around you that you’ve got the latest device," writes Wortham.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.