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LanceLetter - Why EVs are Cool; Gaming Smartphones



April 12 · Issue #225 · View online

Stuff that matters.

Composed while cry-watching a turtle return home

Tesla Roadster is the epitome of cool (Credit: Lance Ulanoff)
Tesla Roadster is the epitome of cool (Credit: Lance Ulanoff)
The electric power of cool
I’ve written a lot about electric cars, Elon Musk, and the current auto industry left turn away from ICE (internal combustion engines) but it only occurred to me recently the extraordinary role Tesla’s played in the sea change.
I know, electric cars have a long history and had, until relatively recently, been thoroughly stamped out by the fossil fuel industry and its supporters. It’s also clear that Tesla and growing concerns about climate change have spurred virtually every major auto manufacturer to pledge a wholesale switch to EV lines over the next five years.
Even so, it occurs to me that if Teslas had not been cool and desirable objects, we might not have arrived at this moment now (or ever).
In the history of automobiles, the buying public has always dismissed the bland in favor of the exciting, unusual, and sexy. I remember when Chrysler was struggling in the 1980s and introduced the ultra-boring K cars. They sold some (mostly because they were so cheap) but their moment in the sun was short-lived. The low rent and unbelievably boring Yugo had its moment, too, but soon faded into obscurity.
For all the things we own (and we own a lot of stuff), we have a special relationship with our cars. We want them to be an expression of our personalities, and, with many exceptions, we treat them with loving care. I mean, look at all the car washes and all the people who spend a Saturday afternoon sudsing up their cars. We care about these travel companions.
We want them to be special and, if possible, sexy, and cool.
I think this is something Elon Musk understood intuitively from the very first Roadster and right on through the Model 3, Model Y, and even the insane CyberTruck.
For Musk, each new Tesla is as special to him and he wants them to be as special to consumers, as, say, a new iPhone model.
That attention to design, sex appeal, innovation, and fun (“insane mode”) is part of the reason Tesla is so successful. It’s also why the appeal of electric vehicles has bled out to the industry at large. It’s why GM is investing so heavily in new EVs, opening the ZERO plant and introducing this week a Hummer EV SUV (available in 2024) that is packed with wild features like the ability to crab (drive sideways) and removable roof panes. It’s not just about driving for 300 miles on a charge, it’s about enjoying the ride and making sure you get a few looks in the process.
Boring would never win the EV vs ICE wars, but sex appeal always provides the necessary spark.
Gaming Smartphones
I’ve been playing games on smartphones for years but until recently, I’d never considered that there might be a category of “Gaming Smartphones.”
Like the gaming laptops before them, these new smartphones are not just built for better gaming experiences, they’re being marketed as devices specifically built for gaming.
A recent Unbox Therapy video on the new Red Magic 6 handset caught my eye, not just because the phone is big and features, and unusual 165hz refresh rate, but because it has dedicated gaming touch areas on the body. This device is so gaming-focused, the company evens sell an attachable cooling system.
In a way, this makes sense. Calling is the thing I do the least on my smartphone. Most of my smartphone time is spent on social media, the web, videos, and, obviously, gaming.
I guess at some point we might stop calling these things smartphones and maybe switch to “Smart Communication and Entertainment Devices.”
Social audio is white-hot
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