As Joni Mitchell sang in Big Yellow Taxi: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” Apple knows it now, from the abrupt fall in its share price last week as it admitted that customers in China and elsewhere are taking their time in buying new iPhones. It was a wonderful streak while it lasted, as it has done (with some ups and downs) since the iPhone’s launch in 2007. It is rare for people to replace an expensive consumer product every two years because the next model is so alluring, although the existing one still works perfectly well. That is about as virtuous a circle as any company can hope to achieve. For a while, Apple gained all the benefits of planned obsolescence without any of the disgrace. People rushed to trade in iPhones even though they still loved them — they lined up to proclaim their excitement at being allowed to ascend to the next level. No taint attached to Apple for making ephemeral goods. “We want the man who buys one of ...

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