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iRent? How an Apple each day keeps the Fomo away

An iPhone rental service could tap consumers' fear of missing out, or Fomo, and allow them to stay in fashion at a more affordable price.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
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While mobile phones are seen as a necessity in this day and age, some also feel the need to stay up to date with the latest technological developments.
While mobile phones are seen as a necessity in this day and age, some also feel the need to stay up to date with the latest technological developments.

Continuing technological developments have seen more and more advanced products made available to consumers – assuming that they have pockets deep enough to bear the cost. 

On the smartphone front alone, the development of increasingly sophisticated technology has brought users features such as foldable touchscreens, screen refresh rates of up to 120Hz, and 100x zoom capabilities.

But the greater the tech, the heftier the price.

Last month, Apple launched a series of new products including the iPhone 14 which, in Malaysia, goes for anywhere between RM5,299 and RM8,299.

Yet reports have also been swirling that Apple may introduce a rental service for its phones along with several other products. 

While there has been no official confirmation from Apple itself, the possibility of such a service has seen its share of debate on social media. 

Some consider a subscription service of this type frivolous while others see it as a win-win approach for those looking to hold a premium device without having to shell out a fortune. 

Psychologist Haslina Muhamad believes that renting iPhones could become a new trend due to the fear of missing out, colloquially known as Fomo – anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may be happening elsewhere.

Haslina, of Universiti Malaya, said the impact of Fomo – which is usually associated with the younger generation – could be very real, especially given the use of social media which causes worry among some that they could be missing out on the latest trends and developments. 

This includes the ownership of gadgets or products that are seen as the talk of the town. 

"Fomo, if not handled well, could jeopardise a person's self-confidence," she said. 

"It normally occurs when people continuously compare themselves with others on social media, leading to feelings of concern that they are lacking in some way." 

Haslina said owning branded goods such as Apple products was one way of appearing to have a higher social status.

"Even though they are expensive, those with Fomo don't see it as a waste – more of a necessity," she added. 

"Right now, there are already buy now, pay later services – it would come as no surprise if iPhone rental services become the next big thing." 

From a marketing perspective, Rosya Izyanie Shamshudeen from UM's Department of Media and Communication Studies said Fomo is used as a tool for companies in selling their products. 

She said companies portray their products as something special and exclusive in an attempt to convince customers that they will lose out if they don't snap them up. 

"They put up advertisements that look exclusive and only for a limited period of time, so people will rush to buy," she said. 

"Naturally, this will have a bigger impact on individuals who are more impulsive." 

Raymond Ng, a loyal iPhone user since 2014, said he would welcome an iPhone rental service as this would allow him to own the latest Apple products.

Given the increases in Apple prices, he said, it did not make sense for him to spend more than RM5,000 every year just to switch to the latest device. 

For that amount of money, he said, the average user would expect the phone to last for at least two to three years. 

"My iPhone X is still working well, so there's no reason for me to buy the newest iPhone even though it has several new features," he said. 

"But a rental service would allow me to change phones every year at a reasonable price." 

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